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Technology transfer essential to unlocking jobs for African youths

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-11-23 22:31

Students from the Luyanzi Institute of Technology from Uganda are all smiles as they receive the overall team award. Ten countries participated in this year's Africa Tech challenge competition. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The young and expanding working-age population in Africa has been identified as the force which will drive the continent's technological growth if properly harnessed. During an event held in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday to award students in technology, speakers said to remain competitive in the employment market, it is vital for African youth to gain new tech skills since they are the continent's most valuable asset.

They were speaking at the awards ceremony of the seventh Africa Tech Challenge competition, sponsored by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China Limited in partnership with China's embassy in Nairobi.

While addressing attendees during the awards ceremony in the Kenyan capital, Zhou Meifen, cultural counselor at the Chinese embassy in Nairobi, said the competition is significant because it is an avenue to reduce unemployment through skill transfers.

She hailed the program for expanding since it was launched in 2014 to 248 institutions with a reach across 10 African countries. Zhou also promised the Chinese government's support in increasing the number of scholarships awarded to students in the program to study in China.

The seventh season of the technology challenge targeted 259 contestants from Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Egypt, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with the top six teams walking away with numerous prizes. Titled 'Limitless innovation', this year's competition focused on the rapidly developing construction industry, notably the design component. 65 teams from 45 schools took part in the competition.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Xu Fei, AVIC vice-president for East and Central Africa, said the competition had made a comeback after a hiatus in the 2020/2021 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This season's training was done online using an AVIC online learning platform. Following successful completion of online training, the participants will be provided with interview opportunities for internships or jobs. This is in addition to scholarships to pursue further studies at top institutions in China," Xu said.

He added over the last six years, AVIC has devoted resources to providing essential skills to African youth for the modern job market through training and equipping technological institutions with the latest machines.

Ezekiel Machogu, Kenya's minister for education, expressed pride in his ministry's partnership with the Africa Tech Challenge program and encouraged more Chinese enterprises to invest in upskilling African youth as a way to spur employment and entrepreneurship.

"The Africa Tech Challenge has been instrumental in equipping our technical and vocational education and training institutions which have started manufacturing machine spare parts, some of which were exported to China," Machogu said.

"We welcome more participants from the private sector including Chinese investors to participate in programs like the Africa Tech Challenge, which not only create employment but transfer the necessary skills for our young people to be entrepreneurs by opening businesses through the skills they acquire," he added.

The overall award in this year's competition went to Luyanzi Institute of Technology from Uganda.

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