Twelve students from the University of Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University and the University of Port Harcourt have qualified for the finals of the Huawei ICT Competition finals. This has generated excitement in the schools and among ICT buffs, writes CHINAKA OKORO.

The Huawei Global ICT Competition is a major event on the sector’s calendar. Students from universities across the world look forward to participating in it. This year, twelves students from the University of Ibadan, the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the University of Port Harcourt have qualified for the finals of the contest. They achieved this feat after an excellent performance in the Cloud and Network examination at the just concluded Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa Region ICT Competition finals.

The Huawei ICT Competition covers examination on the latest ICT technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, mobile networks and big data. It is believed to be the biggest of its kind in Africa featuring 123 student-talents from 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, divided into 41 teams (28 network track and 13 cloud track teams). At the Sub-Saharan regional finals, the students compete for 18 prizes and 12 admission tickets for the Huawei Global ICT Competition Final in October 2020, which will attract more than 300 other student-talents from 66 countries across the globe.

Team Nigeria had 15 students divided into five teams who competed under the Network and Cloud segment. The students had a great performance which guaranteed four of the Nigerian teams’ tickets to the competition. Two teams emerged first position and third position in the Cloud examination, while two other teams of the Nigerian students emerged second in the network examination. Due to the pandemic, the Huawei ICT Sub-Saharan regional competition was held virtually. The Nigerian students participated from the Huawei Technologies Nigeria offices in Abuja and Lagos.

The Huawei ICT competition, which was established to foster ICT learning in Africa and bridge the gap between theoretical study and practical experience, comprises of a national preliminary contest, regional semi-final and a global final. Following a successful run at the national finals of the Huawei ICT Competition which was held on December 10, 2019, and had over 23,000 Nigerian students in the contest, 15 students were selected to represent Nigeria at the Sub-Saharan Africa Region ICT Competition finals which held on September 10 and 11, 2020 to determine those who will be selected to participate the Huawei Global ICT Competition finals.

Mr. Weilei, one of the Huawei Channel Training Managers (for ICT Talent Ecosystem Development in Nigeria), said: “The Huawei ICT competition was first launched in Nigeria in 2017 and currently runs under the Huawei ICT Academy which is in collaboration with more than 90 Nigerian universities. The Huawei ICT Academy was established to train students for free in the latest internationally relevant ICT skills in subjects such as Networks, Cloud Computing and Big Data. As at today, over 10,000 Nigerian students have benefitted.”

He added: “There are 150 instructors from partnering institutions, with 120 of them acquiring various Huawei certifications in different technology track and 250 training classes in various technology tracks, in Routing & switching, storage, cloud services, big data, W-Lan, security and AI delivered by Huawei certified instructors.”

Ms Melissa Chen, Director, Huawei Nigeria Enterprise D&S Department, said: “The competition-related training has helped over 300 students receive job offers. In Nigeria alone, over 3,000 Nigerian students trained by Huawei have successfully passed the Huawei professional certification exams. Huawei hopes to skill up more than 700,000 ICT professionals by 2023. The aim is to bridge the ICT talent gap, advance the digital transformation of industries, and bring digital to every person, home and organisation for a fully connected, intelligent world.”

Another Huawei Channel Training Manager (for ICT Talent Ecosystem Development in Nigeria), Mr. Kenneth Igwe, explained how the students were trained adequately for the examination by Huawei certified instructors.

He said: “Prior to the ICT competition, Huawei Technologies Nigeria took time out to train 9 of the 15 students who were also given internship opportunities with the company in Abuja and Lagos. Meanwhile, all the students had also been trained since January for this competition and many of them already acquired HCIA, HCIP and HCIP which are globally recognised certifications in various Huawei technology courses.”

The students and instructors were glad to have qualified to represent Nigeria at the Huawei Global ICT Competition which will be held later in the year 2020.

For Abdullahi Muhammad Khalifa (Cloud Team, a student from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria), he is excited he is part of the team that has qualified for the global finals.

“We have been preparing for this for over 8 months. Huawei gave us free access to their cloud services and also free vouchers to write the HCIP Cloud Services Certification and also support from their engineers,” he said.

His excitement is not different from that of Ugheoke Anthony Oshiobugie (Network team, a student from the University of Port Harcourt).

“Huawei offered us internship opportunities which exposed us to real-life projects and has played a major role towards our success in the regional final even as we look forward to the greater performance at the global finals. Connection, Glory, Future, the theme of the Huawei ICT Competition says it all. I am looking forward to the glory of becoming a world champion which will make the future brighter for me.” – “I feel very excited to be participating in the Huawei ICT Global Finals. It took a lot of time and effort to come this far and I am glad our team’s perseverance yielded great results. Huawei provided us with a suitable learning environment during our 6 weeks internship where we learnt about the emerging technologies such as Cloud and Storage,” Oshiobugie said.

According to Mustapha Abdullahi Jimoh (Cloud Team, a student from Ahamadu Bello University, Zaria), “It took a lot of time and effort to come this far and I am glad our team’s perseverance yielded great results. Huawei provided us with a suitable learning environment during our 6 weeks internship where we learnt about emerging technologies such as Cloud and Storage. I feel very excited to be participating in the Huawei ICT Global Finals.”

Abideen Bolaji Olaide, a student of the University of Ibadan and member of the Network Team, said: “I am very excited to represent Nigeria in the global final and I will put more effort to bring the Gold medal home. Huawei has helped me in attaining my HCIA and HCIP R&S certifications and I also participated in a lot of rigorous training organised by Huawei including but not limited to HCIE training. These certifications and trainings really go a long way.”

Equally excited is the team’s member from the University of Port Harcourt, Ukasanya Elma Tejiri. “I am so excited and honoured to represent Nigeria in the global finals, it has been an awesome experience so far. I was part of the boot camp at the Huawei office Abuja for about 2 months where we (I and my team) were extensively trained and well equipped for the regional finals. I am definitely looking forward to coming out in flying colours and making Nigeria proud at the global finals,” Tejiri said.

For another team’s member from the University of Ibadan, Badiru Toheeb Adeniyi, the team had solid support from Huawei.

“What an intensive support from Huawei through the provision of quality trainings and exam vouchers right from the associate level to the expert level also the provision of quick access to study guides,” Adeniyi said.

Ohagim Chinemere, who is a team member from the University of Port Harcourt), said he learnt a lot of things from the competition. “Previously, I could not configure a Huawei enterprise router via the CLI. But after preparing for this competition, I have been able to configure, install and integrate some enterprise links using Huawei enterprise routers. The preparation for this competition has enabled me to master most of the syntax for setting up a Huawei router/switches via CLI. The Huawei Academy has been so helpful in our preparation for the Regional finals through well-planned online classes, lucid presentation via Meet/Zoom mobile Apps and excellent tutors. During the classes, we were given all the materials needed for the exam,” Chinemere said.

For Nwala Uchechi Blessing, the competition has broadened his knowledge in computer networking.

“This platform has enabled me to broaden my knowledge in computer networking, information and network security. It has also kept me abreast on trending network protocols and procedures and how I can secure information properly hereby ensuring the triple A (authentication, authorisation and accounting) to protect data and information using the 3 major components (CIA Triad) confidentiality, integrity and availability. This competition has also helped my knowledge and the level of experience acquired during the course and has enabled me to have an outstanding edge of knowledge and professional qualification over other IT computer personnel’s in networking and security,” Nwala said.

Samuel Oluwafemi Adebayo, an instructor from the University of Port Harcourt, summed up the students’ performance: “Looking at the performance of the students, I am just so happy. I am encouraged by the way they embrace this challenge and always look forward to even more challenges. Huawei really helped in preparing us for the finals by making a pool of learning resources available online which we can always refer to at any time. More preparation time would go a long way for the students as they anticipate the global finals. A great performance is what I look forward to.”

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