Fursathon winners announced during National Youth Day

At the International Youth Day celebrations presided over by His Excellency President Kenyatta on, August 12, National Youth Council, Huawei Kenya and Kenya Pipeline Company announced the winners of the Fursa vs Virus competition. The competition seeks to empower youth to develop solutions to the COVID-19 Pandemic in 6 categories including food security, education, business & economy, environment & energy, government support, and social welfare.

Speaking at the celebrations, President Kenyatta said: “Today we will celebrate the winners of the Fursa versus Virus Challenge.  This is an initiative by the National Youth Council to facilitate and promote innovative responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

May I, at this juncture, take this opportunity to thank the Kenya Pipeline Corporation, Royal Media Services and Huawei Technologies Kenya Limited for partnering with us to ensure that the Fursa versus Virus Challenge was a success.

We are particularly grateful to Huawei Technologies Kenya for covering internet costs for the entire Fursa versus Virus Challenge period as well as for providing 47 tablets and three (3) laptops for the winners.”

Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Mucheru, thanked the partners: “Mastercard Foundation is one of the others partners we have been working with very closely. I want to recognize them alongside all the other partners we have: the UN; with the technology partners, Huawei and KCB. This is something we will continue to work together.”

CEO of the National Youth Council, Roy Sasaka Telewa announced the winners: “Through a thorough vetting process we are announcing the top 4 solutions: Expan USSD, Ntaka Charcoal, Njiraini Food, and the winner of the Fursa vs Virus challenge was Plant Signal, a free offline interactive, smartphone app to give farmers real time diagnosis of the pest or disease that affect their crop. I want to also thank UNFPA Kenya which is going to give training and mentorship for these young people.”

PS State Department for Youth Affairs, Mr. Julius Korir stated that his Department is very focused on measures to unlock youth economic empowerment, harnessing and development of youth talent for national development and hence why this Fursa vs Virus Challenge when presented to him by the National Youth Council received an immediate nod as it represented a great opportunity (Fursa) for youth to engage and for the national government to join forces with the youth to deliver solutions that transform our nation.

An exciting collaboration between public and private sectors, the competition enables youth to utilize the internet to submit their solutions and to receive training, mentoring, financial support and other in-kind support. Youth are critical to addressing COVID-19 and technology can play a critical role in reaching them and supporting them develop their solutions.

CEO of Huawei Kenya, Will Meng, said: “We believe these devices we are providing today will go a long way to fulfilling young people’s dreams”. Huawei Kenya has supported youth for many years in Kenya and played a critical role in providing the ICT infrastructure in the country. During the competition they have been supporting outreach through the DigiTruck mobile training classroom reaching rural youth by giving them access to the internet and training on essential skills on demand in the remotest places in our country. Huawei has also provided online training, data bundles and various prizes and technical support for the winners.

Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) plays an important role in providing energy in Kenya and not only supports youth by creating procurement opportunities for them but also contributes to critical national youth initiatives such as this Fursa vs Virus Challenge. The MD – Dr. Irungu Macharia during the handover of the cheque stated: “We are delighted to support youth in this competition by providing prize money of KES 400,000, and we also call on more public and private sector players to support this noble initiative. Similarly, the government commits itself to support the youth technically and with opportunities to access the supply chain in various infrastructure projects through the AGPO program where we allocate 30% of our budget to youth, gender and persons with disabilities.”

Dr. Ademola Olajide – UNFPA Representative to Kenya reiterated that COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges for the global economy including Kenya. It has imposed upon us severe constraints to our daily life and our social economic activities. That is why the UNFPA Kenya office is pleased to collaborate with the National Youth Council in this Fursa vs Virus Challenge. A challenge that has sought to leverage the innovative tendencies and skills of young people to address the challenges that this pandemic has thrown our way. Therefore we congratulate the winners because this innovation speaks to the very first commitment made by His Excellency the president at the ICPD 25 summit. A commitment to improve the well-being, the health, of young people leveraging technology. We look forward to mentoring the winners, collaborating with Nailab to tailor make learning experiences for them and successfully incubate, grow and take these innovations to scale

NYC is a State Corporation in the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, which came into being through the enactment of the NYC Act 2009 as the official voice of the youth mandated to advocate for youth opportunities, to associate, be represented and participate in the political, social, economic and other spheres of life.

NYC has been leading in the COVID-19 response, however they quickly realized that COVID-19 is a major labor market, social and economic issue with the youth being the biggest culprit. NYC therefore set out to have an economic recovery response that will keep the youth engaged hence the Fursa vs Virus Challenge. As they go on ground distributing PPEs they are also encouraging engagement of young people by them coming up solutions for now and in the coming future.

NYC’s collaboration with Huawei and KPC typifies the opportunity for leveraging partnerships and the power of the public private sector to support the Fursa vs Virus Challenge and especially demonstrating the willingness to work together to empower the youth. Technology is critical to the Economic Recovery Response and Huawei is taking the lead.