Two Kenyan Students Win Microsoft Award Worth Ksh 1.7M



Two Kenyan Students Michael Mwaisakenyi and Kenneth Gichira from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology have emerged as the regional winners of a Microsoft award following the 18th annual Imagine Cup Competition.

Through their official twitter account, the Image Cup Competition had earlier called from submissions from students with innovative and passion-driven tech solutions with the aim of improving the world. This call saw thousands of students joining in the participation with innovations focusing on creating a positive impact locally and globally.

Like other competitions the participants had to be vetted through hackathons, online semi-finals, and virtual regional final events, bringing together finalists via Microsoft Teams.

The Kenyan team was among other 5 teams that made it to the World Championship and presented their projects to compete for the 2020 trophy on the biggest stage yet—the Microsoft Build digital event.

The duo submitted a brilliant innovation of an automated robot using artificial intelligence to identify and remove weeds from rows of crops. Technology that serves as a solution to counter the need of farmers to use pesticides that her harmful for the environment during weeding.

Apart from being recognized for their outstanding performance in the competition, the JKUAT students have also earned a prize of 8000 USD (Ksh. 854,800) each.

Prizes for this competition also included Azure credits and a spot in the Imagine Cup World Championship event.

In a statement by the Country Manager for Microsoft in Kenya; Kendi Nderitu, she expressed pride in the win adding that the duo has proved to the world that Kenya and Africa at large have the potential to provide solutions through innovations.

“We are extremely proud of The Knights, who by making it to the championship event, have reaffirmed Kenya and Africa’s immense potential to create solutions that directly address socio-economic needs within industries such as the agricultural sector,” she stated

She also mentioned that Microsoft through this particular competition has always made it their goal to empower students and have done this through providing such platforms.

“Imagine Cup has always aimed to empower students to use their imagination and passion for technology to develop innovative and inclusive solutions that tackle key societal issues.

“This aligns directly with Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to providing students with the necessary resources and platforms to hone in on and grow their skillset.

“With an increasing focus on bringing the world together digitally, we’re continually encouraged by the projects young developers create to make a difference.” She said

Teams that made it to the second and final round include Hollo from Hong Kong along with Team Syrinx from Japan and Team Tremor Vision from the United States who gave an in-depth presentation of their solutions before the winner was selected.

Team Hollo from the University of Hong Kong, were crowned winners for their mental health companion web app leveraging Azure analytics and AI services to advance youth therapy practices.

The grand prize included 100,000 USD (Ksh.10,685,000), a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and 50,000 USD (Ksh. 5,342,500) in Azure grants.