The Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation & Digital Economy has concluded its first-of-its-kind Build-A-Thon initiative, which is aimed at introducing senior secondary school students to embedded systems and maker culture. The event which was held across three Nigerian cities – Owerri, Maiduguri, and Abeokuta, marked a significant step forward in the Federal Government’s commitment to digital literacy and skill development.
Organised in partnership with the UK-based NGO Raspberry Pi Foundation and supported by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the initiative aims to equip 1,500 students with skills needed to stimulate critical thinking and promote teamwork through dynamic technology collaboration. During the 4-day event which kicked-off on January 22, 2024, students engaged in hands-on learning experiences while learning skills such as the use of Raspberry Pi, embedded systems, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Beyond theoretical knowledge, the Build-A-Thon also provided a diverse learning ecosystem comprising technology labs, DIY boxes, and workshops. This multifaceted approach endowed students with practical insights and real-world applications of the skills they acquired during the program.
Kicking off the opening day in each state were dignitaries such as Professor John-Cliff Nwadike, the immediate past Commissioner for Education in Imo state; Dr. Chimezie Amadi, the immediate past Commissioner for Digital Economy and E-governance in Imo State; Professor Abayomi Arigbabu, the Commissioner for Education, Science & Technology in Ogun state, and Engineer Lawan Abba Wakilbe, the Borno state Commissioner for Education.
The Commissioners spoke highly of the initiative and commended the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation & Digital Economy for driving this initiative. They also wished the participants well and admonished them to use the new skills they had learnt.
Speaking on the successful completion of the Build-A-Thon program, the Honourable Minister of Communications, Innovation & Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani said: “We are very proud of the outcome of the Build-A-Thon which is the largest known Raspberry Pi makerthon. The innovative prototype projects created within four days by the participating schools serves to reinforce our belief that investing in the youth today will pave the way for a more technologically advanced and innovative Nigeria tomorrow.”
Dr. Tijani further highlighted the broader impact of such initiatives, stating, “This Build-A-Thon not only nurtures innovation but also aligns with our commitment to digital education. I am delighted to announce that this initiative seamlessly connects with our ongoing Code Clubs, a collaborative effort with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. These Code Clubs, spanning 17 locations in Nigeria, are part of a global movement dedicated to putting the power of computing and digital making into the hands of young minds worldwide.”
Some of the programmed prototypes built by the students were smart homes, speedboats, automated parking lot, heartbeat monitor, robotic hands designed for the disabled, digital timer alarm systems, coin bank, electric car, smart doors, machines designed to alert the blind, deaf and mute when in danger, aircraft, bluetooth speakers, and various other innovative prototypes.
On the Demo Day, each contesting school presented their product prototypes for assessment and outstanding students and teams were presented with awards for their efforts. The results across the three states were as follows;
Best Overall project
In Owerri, Comprehensive Secondary School, Avu won the ‘Best Overall Project’ for their prototype of a functional speedboat for recreational water activities and a rechargeable fan and light, serving as a dual-purpose solution for students studying at night.
In Abeokuta, the United Comprehensive High School won the ‘Best Overall Project’ for their prototype of a smart home, targeted at solving a problem for people with disabilities, giving them remote access to control their homes with adequate security measures in place.
While in Maiduguri, Government Day Secondary School, Lamisula won the ‘Best Overall Project’ for a prototype of a Smart Home suitable for internally displaced persons who have left their ancestral homes and implored government assistance to make it a reality. In the same vein, they also remodelled the newly constructed main flyover in Maiduguri Borno Express for easy movements of road users and commuters.
The success of the Build-A-Thon reinforces the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation & Digital Economy’s dedication to the growth and development of Nigeria’s digital economy in line with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.