Microsoft East and Southern Africa (ESA) has launched a call for entries for this year’s Imagine Cup – the world’s premier technology competition designed solely for students.
For the first time in the competition’s history, this year will see an entry from an African team outside of South Africa. The team will represent one of the countries that make up Microsoft’s ESA region: Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Each of these countries will compete against the other to determine which entry is worthy of going up against the world’s best student technology innovations at the global finals in France late in 2008.
Last year, more than 100,000 students from 100 countries worldwide entered the Imagine Cup competition.
A total of 344 students from 112 teams representing 59 countries and regions were ultimately selected to participate in the finals in Seoul, Korea. These finalists participated in nine categories: Software Design, Embedded Development, Web Development, Project Hoshimi (Programming Battle), IT Challenge, Algorithm, Photography, Short Film and Interface Design ÔÇô all based on Microsoft technology and platforms.
The theme for the 2008 competition is “The Environment”. Some 130,000 students have registered for the competition so far, making it one of the fiercest, fastest-growing and popular competitions of its kind with technology students worldwide.
Microsoft is calling on young programmers, artists and technologists in Africa to “imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment.” The competition is open to university and technology students registered at recognised tertiary education institutions and entry is free of charge.
“We often hear how Africa is falling behind in skills and resources, especially in the technology sector,” said Emmanuel Birech, developer & platform manager at Microsoft.
“It’s through competitions such as the Imagine Cup that we hope to help stimulate innoavation amongst the students of our continent and help ignite the passion for technology that will help them discover their capabilities and realise their potential.”
“With its unique mandate to promote the free flow of ideas and knowledge, UNESCO fully endorses the principles and the purpose of the Imagine Cup as a great initiative to engage and enthuse young technologists in the pursuit of excellence and innovation in technology,” says Abdul Waheed Khan, assistant director-general for Communication and Information, UNESCO.
“The Imagine Cup is truly a global contest of software creation, capturing not only the spirit of competition, but also the broader goal of tackling development challenges through innovation. We recognise the importance of developing ICT expertise among young people throughout the world. By challenging students to create working solutions to development challenges, the Imagine Cup allows new ideas and new economic opportunities to flourish.”
“Students’ work will reflect valuable, real world solutions, while giving them the opportunity to compete for cash and technology prizes. When coupled with the power of technology the potential of young people is unlimited and the ideas they develop for the Imagine Cup could significantly improve the lives of millions of people around the world,” Louis Otieno, general manager, Microsoft East & Southern Africa says.
Apart from the prizes, students have the opportunity to gain invaluable experience in the world of technology. Competition entrants expose their talents to Microsoft partners and the competition sponsors, increasing their chances of being absorbed into the working world or finding financial support to develop their concepts.
A critical part of the competition is the Innovation Accelerator, which aims to help the global finalists with vital entrepreneurship training and mentoring. This will allow them to better their chances of bringing their ideas out into the open and market their products to the wider technology community.