The sixth edition of the Africa Tech Challenge (ATC) funded by Chinese firm AVIC International was launched on Thursday in Kenya, which aims to boost industrialization in the African continent.
Kevit Desai, principal secretary of the State Department of Vocational and Technical Training in the Ministry of Education, told reporters in Nairobi that the regional youth competition seeks to promote skills development and catalyze Africa’s industrial transformation.
This year’s Africa Tech Challenge brings together teams from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Zambia, in Kenya to offer training in mechanical engineering and lathe machining, and winners will be awarded cash prizes as well as a manufacturing contract.
Desai said that the initiative will help to deliver high standards of material production and development that is central to improve industrial competitiveness.
He observed that ATC provides an opportunity for African nations to work with China, which is one of the most industrialized countries in the world.
The government official said that the contest which began in 2014 was initially undertaken in Kenya and has since been rolled out in other African countries.
He noted that the Chinese-funded skills program will go a long way in mentoring young graduates from technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges to become role models for others to emulate while creating employment opportunities for the youth in the world markets of manufacturing.
According to the education ministry, the project is expected to support and offer assistance to the students currently studying technical disciplines to give them a chance to pioneer the country towards embracing technical skills and creating self-employment.
“In my view, this contest will meet its objectives of training Kenyans and equipping them with productive skills for their development and of meeting the national development goals,” Desai said.
Zhao Leilei from AVIC International, who is program manager of ATC, noted that the long-term goal of AVIC International is to roll out the contest to 54 countries in Africa.
Zhao said that ATC is the corporate social responsibility program under the ongoing Kenya-China TVET project Phase II, which hopes to upgrade and renovate 144 technical institutes across 47 counties in the country.
Kenya-China TVET project Phase II has covered 10 market-oriented disciplines, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, automotive maintenance, mechatronics technology, welding, refrigeration, agricultural value addition, hospitality management, civil engineering and agricultural machinery.
Zhao revealed that under the project, Kenya’s TVETs will receive modern equipment, after-sale service as well as centralized training to trainers and institutes that are beneficiary of the projects.
“So far we have completed equipment installation in 10 disciplines, for 116 technical schools across Kenya. More than 300 master trainers have been systematically trained for the advanced technical knowledge, use of equipment, workshop management, industry liaison and teaching methodology,” said Zhao.
AVIC said that it is also implementing TVET projects in other African countries like Uganda, Gabon and Cote d’Ivoire.
“We are helping countries all across this continent to build a strong foundation in TVET section, which is the key of their industrialization process,” said Zhao.