Three Kenyan teams that excelled at the Huawei ICT Competition Global Finals have been awarded at an event held at the Serena Hotel officiated by the PS at the State Department for University Education and Research in the Ministry of Education, Amb. Simon Nabukwesi. In addition to the medals and certificates, the winners also received a variety of Huawei products and Huawei exam vouchers as rewards.
The teams competed under the network and innovation tracks. The Network Track teams were awarded 1st and 3rd place while team Mazingira was awarded 3rd place under the Innovation track as well as their lecturers and tutors. Other key guests in attendance included the University Prof. Joseph Rotich; the Deputy VC JKUAT Prof. Robert Kinyua Wambui Ngumi; UNESCO’S Head of natural sciences Prof. Jayakumar Ramasamy; and Dean of Students, University of Nairobi, Mr. Johnson Kinyua.
(TOP: The Network Track team members poses with their prizes after winning the First Prize).
The 2019-2020 ICT Competition received over 6,400 student applications out of which 100 students proceeded to the national finals, later five teams proceeded to the regional finals and ultimately, 3 teams represented Kenya at the global finals.
During the awarding ceremony, Amb Nabukwesi congratulated the students and lecturers for winning these awards and representing Kenya so well at the international level and thanked Huawei for its tremendous commitment and support to building capacity amongst Kenyan students and institutions in the ICT area that will go a long way to creating jobs and digital solutions. He commented: “The ICT Competition is a unique contribution that the private sector can provide that significantly enhances the quality of our ICT education. We recognize the need for different formats that are practical and hands-on to complement the theory”.
Huawei has and continues to invest heavily in nurturing local ICT talent to compete equally with counterparts from across the globe. This is in addition to growing the local ICT talent ecosystem, strengthening capacity building and increasing people’s digital competence. As a result, Huawei has partnered with 42 institutions of higher learning including but not limited to the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Laikipia University, Oshwal College, Catholic University and Multi-Media University of Kenya to drive the digital inclusion agenda in its efforts to bridge the digital divide reaching over 5000 students and 100 lectures since 2018.
Mr. Frank Yang, the VP of Huawei Southern Africa Region noted that synergies with academic partners are key and have contributed to Huawei broadening its areas of collaboration. He added: “Huawei has played an important role in the development of ICT Talent in these countries for many years now, and we are seeing the efforts from us as well as from governments and other partners pay off. Investing in education is not only our social responsibility but also our business priority to help grow the ICT sector and to help grow the economies of the countries in which we work”.
Prof. Joseph Rotich, the VC of Laikipia University, applauded Huawei’s efforts in training students: “we are proud to be associated with Huawei and are in the process of enhancing this collaboration; we thank Huawei for providing technology which will assist in improving teaching and learning”. Studies have shown that practical applications and experiences in learning have contributed to the overall improved performance amongst learners.
Speaking at the ceremony, UNESCO’s Head of natural sciences Jaya Ramasamy emphasized the importance of ICT, noting that: “Technology is rapidly changing the employment landscape generating jobs that demand a range of digital skills; the World Bank has estimated that digital transformation will increase growth in Africa by 2% a year and reduce poverty by 1% in Sub-Saharan Africa”. Commenting on the partnership between the UNESCO regional office with Huawei that began in 2019 to collaborate on enhancing digital skills, he added: “We identified Huawei as one of our strategic partners and we thank Huawei for your continuous and strong support to UNESCO’s programs in building capacities and achieving Sustainable Development Goals in Africa.”
The pandemic has continued to unearth the inequalities in the education sector more so in institutions of higher learning. These may continue to widen the education gaps between various regions whilst aggravating the digital divide. To ensure that learning never stops the Learn ON program was launched to provide contactless online learning platforms for both students and tutors and the Huawei ICT Academy continues to partner with various organizations including universities and the Ministry of ICT under the Ajira Program to ensure that students and participants take advantage of the free courses and training on emerging technology.
The 2020 global finals saw African teams take lead with 13 teams representing and winning a total of seven medals compared to the previous five teams represented in the 2019 finals reaping only one 3rd prize. The winners not only exemplified the highest quality training and preparation but also demonstrated overall outstanding performance amidst the challenges brought about by the pandemic in both the practice and innovation competition. The Innovation Competition contents included knowledge of Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and Big Data with the aim to examine the innovative design and collaborative development capabilities of the participants.
In 2020 the University of Nairobi received the 2020 excellent global talent ecosystem partners’ award due to its broad partnership with Huawei on various capacity building and training programs namely the Huawei ICT competition, Huawei Campus ambassador program, Huawei Management Trainee program, Digitalent career fair among others.
Evans Ngeny, whose team was awarded the 1st prize under the Network Track, noted that the competition has provided great career opportunities and attributed the award to the support provided by various teams including the Huawei fraternity, the ICT Academy and the universities.