, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 28 – China’s manufacturing firm AVIC International Holding Corporation and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology have kicked off the Africa Tech Challenge, a program aimed at cultivating the spirit of entrepreneurship among students in Technical Training Institutions in country.
The challenge has brought together groups of three students from 18 institutions of higher learning who will be trained on how to manufacture especially mechanical and electrical engineering products that fit international standards.
The best group to make high quality products after going through the training, will win an award of Sh8.7 million worth of a contract with China’s AVIC International Holding Corporation.
“After September when we announce the winner, they will actually sign the contract and come back here to actualise what we are calling, ‘The Factory in College’. This is because they will have the machine to produce,” Chief Technical Education Officer at the Ministry Bernard Isalambo said.
AVIC international has already donated over 92 machines which will be used by the students to produce various products.
“For example we have very good equipment in electrical engineering which are actually in eight labs in four institutions across the country,” Isalambo added.
Apart from empowering the youth, the project is aimed at helping Kenya become more of a manufacturing country and reduce high importation.
“At the moment we import almost everything, even things like bolts and nuts; things which we can be able to make here and fit the international standards,” the Ministry’s Technical Education Directorate Samuel Wanyonyi noted.
Wanyonyi said they have already approached the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) to support the project, by absorbing the students who don’t win the challenge in form of employment and internships. “The industry players are so happy about this. They were telling us, this is what we have been waiting for all along.”
The success of the initial project will see students from various technical instructions go through such challenges every year.
“Africa Tech Challenge is all about youth empowerment platform. We would just like them to embrace technical skills. The training is about showing them how to make things like spare parts of high precision for export,” said Lynette Mwende, Project Manager at AVIC International.