The winners of this year’s DStv Eutelsat Star Awards were announced on Tuesday night during a ceremony held in Nairobi, Kenya, that also celebrated rising student interest in science and technology.
The fifth edition of the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards, organised by MultiChoice and Eutelsat, reached a record participation with nearly 2,000 entries from 18 countries. The winner in the essay category, Ayawen Asuinura from Ghana has won a trip to Paris and onwards to a launch site to witness a rocket blast into space to place a satellite into orbit. This is the first win in the essay category for Ghana that has already produced two winners in the poster category. The runner-up in the essay category was Sara Eribo from Equatorial Guinea who wins a trip for two to visit MultiChoice facilities and the South African National Space Agency near Johannesburg. In the essay category, students were asked to interpret the quote by Socrates “Man must rise above the Earth, to the top of the atmosphere and beyond, for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives” and to show how satellites help understand and take care of our planet.
In the poster category, Mallon Marume from Zimbabwe scooped the first prize for artistic creativity and will visit Eutelsat in Paris to understand how satellites are operated and piloted in space and the many ways they benefit users. This is a consecutive win for Zimbabwe as Joseph Mahiya won top honours in the essay category last year. Benjamin Ibanda from Uganda was the runner up in the same category. The four winning schools attended by the overall award winners and runners-up were also rewarded with a DStv installation, including dish, TV set, PVR decoder and free access to the DStv Education Bouquet.
Paolo Nespoli, an ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut chaired the jury of the Awards for the third year in a row, assisted by an international panel of skilled industry experts: Ronke Bello, CEO at Innovative Technology Literacy Services Ltd, Nigeria; Dr Jane Munga, Policy Advisor, Kenyan Ministry of Information, Communication, Technology and Research, Kenya; Dr Perkins Muredzi, Dean of School of Industrial Sciences and Technology, Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), Zimbabwe; Melt Loubser, GM: Broadcast Technology, MultiChoice Africa and Rodney Benn, Regional Director, Eutelsat.
Commenting on the entries, Paolo Nespoli said: “As the Jury Chairman of the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards over the last three years, I confirm that this year’s entries reaffirm the high standard of this unique competition. The quality and creativity of the finalists’ essays and artwork underscore the deep interest of Africa’s young generation in science and technology. I am truly honoured to be part of a competition that reveals some of Africa’s future thought leaders.”
The keynote speaker was Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of ICT, Hon. Joe Mucheru who said: “It is important to note that His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and his government is determined to promote holistic development of the country covering all sectors with particular focus on leveraging science and technology in the delivery of services in all sectors of the economy including ICT and education. Therefore, it is gratifying to note the effort by both MultiChoice Africa and Eutelsat in ensuring that we nurture interest and build capacities in science and technology.”
In 2010, MultiChoice Africa and Eutelsat combined their expertise to initiate an annual pan-African student competition called the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards. The DStv Eutelsat Star Awards encourages 14-19 year-old students to write an essay or design a poster on a satellite-related topic. Country winners from across Africa then compete in the overall awards for a trip to the Eutelsat facilities in Paris, with the essay winner travelling onwards to witness a live rocket launch. Runners-up win a trip to South Africa as guests of MultiChoice Africa and the South African National Space Agency at Hartebeesthoek. Schools attended by the overall winners also receive a DStv installation, including dish, television, state-of-the-art PVR decoder and free access to the DStv Education Bouquet. Winners at national levels win prizes such as computers or tablets.