In response to a growing need to popularise science and to create excitement about space technology in young people, MultiChoice and Eutelsat have been collaborating over three years on a unique pan- African student competition called the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards.
In Accra, Ghana, last night, the broadcasting industry and high-profile government members convened at the Golden Tulip Hotel for the announcement of the final winners of this year’s edition. Stakeholders unanimously expressed their commitment to investing in the future of education and to instilling a passion for technology and the sciences in the younger generation.
In her address, the Minister of Education, the Honourable Nana Opoku-Agyeman applauded the organisers for generating awareness of the importance of education in science and technology: “With the fast-changing digital landscape, we have an obligation to Africa’s youth to ensure that they are empowered to adapt and to use their educational system to make meaningful change to their country and the continent’s development agenda. The government recognises that it cannot single handedly tackle the challenges faced by the sector and that public-private partnerships can also accelerate progress.”
Of 1000 entries from 19 countries, this year’s DStv Eutelsat Star Awards winner Francine Mazala (Zambia) stood out as the winner of the essay category and has won a trip to Paris and onwards to a launch site to witness a rocket launch into space and runner up in the essay category was Eshlin Vedan (South Africa)who wins a trip for two to visit MultiChoice facilities and the South African Space Agency near Johannesburg, South Africa. In the poster category, first place is Lloyd Ossei Baffour (Ghana) who will visit Eutelsat in Paris and runner up in the same category is Angel Gabriella (Uganda). The four winning schools attended by the overall award winners and runners-up respectively were also rewarded with a DStv installation, including dish, television, state-of-the-art PVR decoder and free access to the DStv Education Bouquet.
The DStv Eutelsat Star Awards comprises national and international adjudication. The first assessment of entries is at country level with a panel of local judges selecting country winners and runners-up who go through a round of preliminary judging which culminates in the selection of the final winners.
A regional panel selects the top four entries. This year the panel was chaired by the inspirational European Space Agency astronaut, Paolo Nespoli, assisted by a panel of industry experts who commended the standard of the competition. “Congratulations to the winners for their understanding of Africa’s challenges and their knowledge of how satellite technology can change the course of development on the continent. Francine’s impeccable command of the language and technical ability was impressive. ”
Nespoli also urged young people to be tenacious in their quest for success. “Your future is in your hands to dream big and to achieve the impossible. Follow your dreams with determination and never give up – because dreams do come true. At one point going to space looked unachievable but here I am today living my purpose and living my dream as an astronaut with two flights into space as one of my life’s biggest achievements.”
Nico Meyer, CEO of MultiChoice Africa added his congratulatory message to the occasion. “These Awards have afforded young people the opportunity to not only grow their confidence levels but to represent the continent on the global stage. MultiChoice Africa is encouraged every year by the success of these awards to plough more resources into this initiative as it becomes more evident that the future and development of this continent lies in the hands of young people.”
Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat’s Chairman and CEO highlighted the growing value of space for technological advancement, social inclusion and economic growth and encouraged young people to follow their dreams. “The quality of entrants was once again a strong sign that space and satellite communications resonate significantly in the hearts and minds of the younger generation. We are immensely proud to partner with MultiChoice on this initiative and to have the opportunity to meet some of Africa’s future great minds.”