A 2022 World Bank report reveals that Africa has about 420 million young people aged 15 to 35.
This figure is expected to increase to 830 million by 2050 and approximately 46% of Africa’s labour force will be young people aged 15-34 by 2063.
Presently youth face significant challenges in accessing key development resources such as education, skills, employment, and experience barriers to engagement that would enable them to contribute to society.
Approximately 50 percent of secondary-age Africans are out of school and access to quality education that builds relevant skills are limited. In addition, there is a rising mismatch between education and the needs of industry and the labour market.
However, the continent is facing a skill gap that continues to hinder industrialization growth.
In a bid to bridge the skill gap facing African youth, Chinese global firm AVIC International Holding Corporation (AVIC INTL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education of Kenya and the China Education Association for International Exchange have organized Africa Tech Challenge [ATC].
The ATC which is in its 8th edition aimed to empower the continent’s youth with industry based skills.
“ATC is an ideal for our youth to acquire the much needed technical skills that help the African continent realize its Agenda 2063 and also help them be self employed,” says Eng- Tsatsi Tai,Team Leader of Zimbabwe .
Mr Tai is a tutor at the Harare Polytechnic where he teaches mechanical engineering.
“Our government is currently rebranding its TVET sector in a bid to better the training offered to our students.I believe this competition will help equip our participating students with global industrial competency skills required to drive industrialization.”adds Mr Tai.
This year, ATC has attracted nine countries namely ;Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Egypt, Zambia, Tanzania, Cote D’Ivoire and Zimbabwe.
“This competition is an eye opener for me as TVET tutor and it will enhance my teaching skills, in my country we have out-dated CNC machines but here we are using modern CNC and lathe machines. This has posed a challenge to us but the organizers are very helpful in teaching us on how to operate these machines,”says Eng Mark Mwitumushi-Team leader Zambia.
His sentiments are shared by Isaac Amankwaa-team leader of Ghana.
“We are not just here to win the competition but also to gain the skills that will enable us to drive growth in both manufacturing sectors,”adds Mr Amankwaa.
Mr Amankwaa is a tutor from Kumasi Technical University.
“This training will enable use tap into the African Continental Free Trade Area because we need to enhance our production capacity as a continent, this is the only way we shall fully gain from this new trade bloc. But in order to do that technical skills are vital for our continent,” concludes Mr Amankwaa.
The winners of ATC season 8 will be awarded internships and job opportunities among other rewards.
Moreover, all Africa Tech Challenge participants receive certificates to show their participation and to highlight the skills they learned during the session.
Africa Tech Challenge is also a significant economic development driver since it drives solutions to challenges in the national economy that need interdisciplinary use of science and technology.
The challenge targeting contestants from nine countries namely; Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Ghana, Gabon, and Còte d’Ivoire will see the top six teams walking away with numerous prizes.
Themed ‘Role of Engineering in driving industrialization in Africa, this year’s competition will focus on the rapidly developing construction industry, notably the design component.
Contestants will be able to boost their design abilities, especially in reading and drafting construction drawings using cutting-edge technology tools such as ZWCAD.
The initiative takes the shape of a training program and a competition, with the most outstanding participants getting fully financed scholarships to prestigious Chinese universities.
The one-month competition is being hosted at the Technical University of Kenya [TUK]