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Feature: China helps African youth drive industrial transformation


NAIROBI, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Samson Onkoba is among the African youths that have benefited from advanced training in technical skills courtesy of Chinese firm AVIC International which finances the Africa Tech Challenge (ATC).

The 25-year-old Onkoba learnt software engineering he was selected to join ATC.

"I hope to use the skills I have acquired to develop products that will help to accelerate Africa's industrialization process," Onkoba told Xinhua on Thursday during the launch of the sixth edition of the ATC.

ATC Season 6 will focus on skills development for industrial transformation and see participation by 17 teams from across eight African countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Zambia.

The ATC five-week training will culminate in a competition that will see the top six teams walk away with cash prizes worth over 1,000,000 Kenyan shillings (9,600 U.S. dollars) while the top two teams will also be awarded manufacturing contracts worth 96,000 dollars.

After performing well during ATC, Onkoba was awarded a scholarship to study MBA at the Beihang University in Beijing.

He observed that African youths are keen to learn advanced manufacturing technology from China in order to help the continent expand its industrial base.

Africa has the least developed industrial sector in the world, despite having huge natural resources that can be processed to produce manufactured goods.

Charity Ojwang is also a beneficiary of the ATC program having being selected for the first edition. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in mechanical engineering at Beihang University on a scholarship.

She hailed the Chinese education system because it focuses on imparting skills that the industry requires.

Ojwang said that she intends to utilize the knowledge and expertise she acquires from the Asian giant to help Africa expand its manufacturing sector.

She urged the continent to emulate China in order to develop products that can compete globally.

"China has become the world manufacturing center by developing products that meet the needs of consumers," Ojwang added.

Another beneficiary of ATC project is Eric Bekale who is a lecturer of a technical training institute in Gabon.

He was accompanied by three students from his country to train in Nairobi in mechanical engineering.

He noted that China is a true friend of Africa because it has developed an innovative program that will improve the technical know-how of young Africans.

Bekale said that Africa has a deficit of technical skills required to drive the continent's industrialization agenda. He noted that China remains a role model for Africa because of its industrial prowess.

"We should partner with China in order borrow critical technology that will help to enhance value addition in the continent," he added.

Sie Pierre Kam from Cote d'Ivoire has also been selected to participate in the six edition of ATC. Kam noted that Africa faces a lot of challenges in its quest to improve its industrial output.

"By partnering with China, Africa will have access to modern technology required to make the continent reduce its dependence on exports of raw materials and become an exporter of finished goods," Kam added.