Kenyans Top in Global Tech Contest

21 January 2021

Three Kenyan innovation teams that excelled at the Huawei ICT Competition Global Finals were feted at an event held at the Serena Hotel, Nairobi, on Tuesday.

The innovators, who created solutions based on Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Cloud Computing and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies made it to the top ten list after 110 entries from 39 countries from across the globe, with nine being African.

The teams, with member aged between 18 and 24, competed under two categories, Network and Innovation tracks where Kenya has scooped the first and third positions in the Network category while settling for a third finish in the Innovation competition.

The Network teams that comprised Alex Kibet, Maluki Muthusi, Kipyegon Ngeny and Evans Kiprotich come from the University of Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Laikipia and Multimedia varsities.

They have come up with a tech solution dubbed Forever Smart Glasses, designed using IoT technologies and intended to help people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Philip Oyier, Michael Obwayo, Lydia Gathon and Dianarose Nasipwonyi were feted for their creativity to build a solution to detecting and fighting wild fires in the Innovation category.

In addition to medals and certificates, the winners also received variety of Huawei products, smartphones and smart watches as well as the Huawei Certified ICT Expert (HCIE) certification exam vouchers worth Sh300,000 each.

Evans Ngeny, whose team came first for its innovation on modern Cloud Computing networks noted that the competition "has provided great career opportunities" and attributed the award to the support provided by various teams including Huawei, the ICT Academy and local universities.

"This opens up opportunities in the digital economy where solutions for huge challenges in Africa are in high demand," he said.

The 2019-2020 ICT Competition received over 6,400 student applications out of which 100 students proceeded to the national finals, and later five teams proceeded to the regional finals and ultimately 3 teams representing Kenya at the global finals.

During the awarding ceremony, Principal Secretary of the State Department for University Education and Research in the Ministry of Education, Amb Simon Nabukwesi congratulated the students and lecturers for representing Kenya well at the international level.

"The ICT Competition is a unique contribution that the private sector can provide since it 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," he said.

Mr Frank Yang, Vice President of Huawei Southern Africa Region observed that synergies with academic partners are key to unlocking Africa's potential in emerging technologies.

"Huawei has played an important in the development of ICT Talent in Africa 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," he noted.

Studies have shown that practical applications and experiences in learning have contributed to the overall improved performance amongst learners.

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 percent each year and reduce poverty by 1 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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 third prize.

The winners exemplified the highest quality training and preparation while showcasing overall outstanding performance amidst the challenges brought about by the pandemic. Other African countries that participated are South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Zambia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

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