The Meru National Polytechnic in Kenya has emerged third in the Africa Tech Challenge (ATC), a competition targeting youth in technical training institutions from six African countries.
Meru National Polytechnic students, who represented Kenya in this year’s competition, emerged third after Luyanzi Institute of Technology from Zambia, which took the first position, and Zambia’s Northern Technical College which was ranked second.
The award is a boost to the Kenyan technical and vocational educational and training institution.
ATC is an initiative of AVIC International, a Chinese multinational, in which participants compete on various technical skills with the winner securing scholarships to China.
The challenge resumed this year after a two-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Other countries represented in the competition this year included Egypt, Zimbabwe and Ghana.
The competition, themed ‘Limitless innovation’, which is the seventh since its inception, focused on boosting design abilities in reading and drafting construction drawings using cutting edge technology tools.
Speaking during the award ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya’s Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu lauded the initiative for empowering Kenyans in manufacturing machine parts for export.
"We welcome more participants from the private sector including Chinese investors to participate in programmes like the ATC, which not only create employment, but also transfer the necessary skills for our young people to be entrepreneurs,” CS Machogu said.
Mr Zhou Meifen, a Counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Kenya, said the competition seeks to address unemployment in Kenya through transfer of technical skills.
"Since 2014, the programme has covered 248 institutions across 10 African countries. The Chinese government will continue supporting the initiative and to increase the number of scholarships awarded to study in China," Mr Meifen said.
AVIC International Project Engineering Company vice president Xu Fei said the winners would get opportunities for internships, jobs and scholarships to pursue further studies at top institutions in China.
He said that the firm is committed to providing essential skills to African youth for the modern job market through training and equipping technological institutions with the latest machines.
“The seventh ATC training and competitions were digitally supported by AVIC International’s online education platform which realised factors such as live streaming and the recording of remote training assignments and exams, allowing participants from different countries to participate in the training," said Mr Xu.
The top three individual award-winning contestants get full scholarships to study in China.
This year, the challenge attracted 65 teams and 259 students as well as teachers from 45 institutions. It included a month of online intensive training from July 25 to August 22.
The preliminary round was held on August 25 where one team from each of the six countries was selected to participate in the final round, with the first phase being launched on November 13 and the final one on November 19.