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By Janeliza Malemba

General Electric Africa and the Africa Leadership University (ALU) have announced the kick-off of the third cohort of the Africa Industrial Internet Programme (AIIP) which is aimed at equipping young Africans with digital engineering skills.

Farid Fezoua, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for GE Africa says that the programme will be able to enable the trainees to solve engineering problems in an applied context.

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“As a digital industrial company, it is exciting to see how over the last two years the AIIP has developed an ecosystem of digital engineers that utilise data science as an enabler for their work across industries, developing solutions for the most pressing challenges,” he says.

Mr Fezoua says that the ALU-AIIP partnerships looks to impart engineering skills relevant in the digital age.

The training takes place at a time when spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) is predicted to reach a trillion US dollars by 2021, with the total number of connected devices being projected to rise to 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025, a fivefold increase in ten years.

The ALU-AIIP varisities’ partnerships thereby follows in the footsteps of other engineering trainers such as Andela, which seeks to train 100,000 engineers.

In Kenya, internet penetration rates in Kenya stands at 9.7 percent, citing statistics from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK), but there is a challenge when it comes to access and utilization of the resource.

The 2020 cohort has enrolled 35 students from 8 countries across Africa, drawn from Oil & gas, transportation, power, energy, manufacturing, healthcare, telecoms and aviation industries.

Over the last two years, the training programme has graduated 64 students, of which 50 were fully sponsored by GE from a scholarship fund totalling $ 500,000.

GE will give 10 full scholarships for the current cohort.

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Launched in 2018, the programme has empowered participants with essential skills for building applications for the Industrial Internet, which enables machine-to-machine communication that results in systems that can collect, analyze, and deliver data in real-time.

These features provide significant benefits such as predicting when a device will require maintenance, enhancing logistics management, enhancing quality and optimizing safety.

The AIIP is designed using a project-based approach where participants get to apply their learning in real world contexts.

The Programme includes regular assessments in each module culminating with a final project where participants are tasked with applying their learning to solve an existing problem either in their business or in a partner organization’s business operations.

This is achieved through modules in machine learning and big data analytics, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Cloud-based Application Development.

A unique aspect of the Programme is a deliberate focus on creating links to industry for participants by inviting industry experts to intensives to share case studies, projects of interest, trends and opportunities, through industry field visits and mentorship opportunities with data science professionals.

“African Leadership Group is thrilled to be partnering with GE to build a new generation of digital leaders for Africa” said Fred Swaniker, Founder of African Leadership Group, which includes African Leadership Academy, African Leadership University, and ALX.

“We share GE’s passion for data, and what it can bring to the African continent and the world. The Programme enables mid-career engineers to build new skills in data analytics, data science, data engineering and data visualization,” he explains.

Mr Swaniker further says that today’s engineers can use the power of data to improve the performance of high-tech industrial machinery and processes. This in turn tends to add the value for companies that they work for, leading to more global competitiveness for the professionals.

In 2019, five female candidates from Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria received the Jay Ireland Africa Rising Scholarship for women in tech in honor of GE Africa’s former CEO, Jay Ireland.

Speaking about her experience with the programme, Funmi Somoye a 2019 cohort graduate from Nigeria said, “More than Machine Learning and Data Science, I have learned more about myself, and what I am capable of doing.”

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