Feature: Kenyan youth finds lifeline in China-funded technical skills contest, scholarship
Samson Amenya grew up in a working-class district located on the northern edges of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi at a time when communal bonds were stronger while hard work, ambition and fortitude were cherished virtues.
The computer science major drew inspiration from his industrious parents who encouraged him to raise the bar in school, embrace good conduct and nurture friendships that add value to his life's mission.
Amenya's father who was a veteran driver and his enterprising mother were instrumental in shaping the character of their 28-year-old third-born son whose quest to establish a thriving technology start-up company has not diminished.
The affable youngster participated at a major infrastructure developer in Kenya, China's AVIC International initiated and sponsored Africa Technology Challenge (ATC) under the guidance of the Chinese Embassy in Kenya in October 2015, where he benefitted from three weeks of intensive training and mentorship to improve his software engineering skills.
"Before graduation, I applied for the Africa Tech Challenge and was among those shortlisted to participate in the software development competition that lasted three weeks," said Amenya.
"The training was interactive and imparted unique skills-set to participants. At least I came out of the competition armed with the knowledge required to grow my start-up," he added.
Shortly after participating at the AVIC International initiated and sponsored technology skills contest, Amenya joined Beihang University in Beijing in September 2016 to pursue a post-graduate degree in business administration.
He said that the study tour in China courtesy of a scholarship from AVIC International was a game-changer in terms of skills upgrade, multicultural interactions and nurturing of business acumen.
"It was during my three years' study tour in China that I honed my business skills, gained exposure to diverse cultures, and opened my eyes to transformative opportunities," said Amenya.
He said the three-year post-graduate business degree program in Beijing boosted his interpersonal skills and made him appreciate time-honored virtues like honesty, hard work and benevolence.
Amenya's technology start-up was at its infancy when he went to China for the three-year post-graduate degree program and upon his return early this year, he embarked on a process of reactivating its growth.
"My start-up was in a stagnant mode when I went to China but I intend to oversee its growth now that I am back in the country. I believe it has the potential to become a formidable enterprise," said Amenya.
He said that his participation at the Africa Tech Challenge combined with the post-graduate training in China has provided him with the skills, experience and multicultural exposure required to succeed in business.
He said that knowledge and skills transfer, which remains one of the most enduring symbols of China-Kenya bilateral cooperation, has transformed livelihoods of local youth.
Yang Guanchen, the executive project manager of technical vocational training project at AVIC International Holding Corporation, said vocational training is key to economic growth in Africa.
The AVIC International Holding Corporation has been in cooperation with Kenya's Ministry of Education since 2010 on the phase I of Kenya-China project on the establishment of technical and vocational laboratories in Kenya.
The Chinese company helped upgrade 10 vocational and technical institutions in the country and provide solutions on areas including curriculum content and instructor training for them. About 15,000 Kenyans were trained in the implementation of the phase I of the project.
In 2013, the company expanded cooperation with the Kenyan government on the phase II of the project, which will enhance and upgrade a total of 144 institutions of technical and vocational education and training across the country.
According to Yang, about 1,500 teachers and some 150,000 students will be trained in phase II, which is scheduled to end in 2020. Enditem