By Emma Okonji
For the first time in six years, a Nigerian student Emmanuel Ochenjele, from CDM Academy, Gboko, Benue State, has emerged the overall winner at the regional level in the poster category of the DStv Eutelsat Awards.
Having been selected from Nigeria among the over 200 schools that entered for the competition in Nigeria, Ochenjele also won at the regional level, where winning entries from other African countries were judged.
In Nigeria, Zumia Abdulkari, from Zamani College, Kaduna, emerged as the runner up for the poster category, while two other students from Zamani College, Kaduna, emerged winner and runner up in the essay category of the competition.
At the regional level, students from Ethiopia and Nigeria won in the essay and poster categories at the 6th edition of DStv Eutelsat Star Awards organised by Eutelsat and MultiChoice Africa.
While Master Leoul Mesfin from Ethiopia won the essay prize, Master Emmanuel Ochenjele from Nigeria won the poster prize.
The winners of this year’s DStv Eutelsat Star Awards, the unique pan-African competition that encourages young minds to explore innovative thinking in science and space technology were announced in Nigeria. The sixth edition shows sustained interest from African learners aged 14 to 19, attracting over 1000 entries from 20 countries. Levels of accuracy, creativity and originality were judged to be higher than ever before, both in the essay and poster categories.
The topic of the essay category encouraged students to envision the role played by satellite technology in the Africa of the future. The winner in the essay category, Leoul Mesfin from Ethiopia, impressed the judges as the entry considered continental and country specific needs and closely aligns to the topic. As part of the winning prize, Mesfin will join a trip to Paris and onwards to a launch site to witness a rocket blast into space to place a satellite into orbit. The runner-up in the essay category was Davids Bwana from Tanzania who wins a trip for two to visit MultiChoice facilities and the South African National Space Agency near Johannesburg.
In the poster category, first place went to Emmanuel Ochenjele from Nigeria for his depiction of a constellation of diverse satellites all contributing towards the advancement of solutions to challenges such as global warming, conservation of biodiversity, as well as stable energy supply. He will visit Eutelsat in Paris to understand how satellites are operated, as well as a satellite factory. Aobakwe Letamo from Botswana was the runner up in the same category. The four winning schools attended by the overall award winners and runners-up were also rewarded with a DStv installation, including dish, TV set, PVR decoder and free access to the DStv Education Bouquet.
Claudie Haigneré, Europe’s leading female astronaut and now special advisor to the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), chaired the jury of the Awards for the first time.
According to her, “Taking part in the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards for the first time has been quite simply a mind-changing experience, especially as this year’s topic was particularly challenging. The visionary ideas on Africa’s future satellite landscape developed in essays and posters underscore how Africa’s youth expect technology to drive positive change for their continent. The Jury engaged in intense discussions to award the most realistic and creative proposals that deserve to stand out on the African stage. Our congratulations go to all the finalists for their work and to the winners for their brilliant ideas.”
Other judges include, CEO at Innovative Technology Literacy Services Ltd, Ronke Bello, (Nigeria); Elizabeth Ohene, journalist and former Minister of State to the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports (Ghana), Prof. Stephen Simukanga; Former University of Zambia Chancellor and now Director General of the Higher Education Authority, Jenerali Ulimwengu, and well known writer, columnist and lawyer from Tanzania.
The winners were announced in the presence of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications, Mr. Sunny Echono, who represented the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu.