After six gruelling months of competition, Nigeria’s premier tertiary institution, University of Ibadan, has emerged overall winner of this year’s edition of Africa’s top show, the Zain Africa Challenge. The programme is a fast paced televised quiz show involving universities from across countries from East, West and Southern Africa where the company has operation.

Participating in the competition for the first time, the University of Ibadan scaled every hurdle to win the international inter university competition involving 32 Universities in Africa. Tens of millions of viewers across Africa and beyond were glued to their screens as the continent’s top students battled for the top prize and their share of over US$ 1,000,000 of cash prizes and grants made possible by Zain.

For the feat, University of Ibadan received the star prize of a US$ 50,000 grant from Zain, with each of the team members receiving the sum of US$ 5,000. Second placed Kenyatta University, Kenya carted away the sum of US$ 35,000, while its team members went home with $3,000 each. All the other schools that participated in the tournament received varying grants ranging from $5,000 to $35,000.

The prizes were handed out at a colourful prize presentation ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city. The event attracted top dignitaries from across government and business circles. Led by the Honourable Minister of Education, Dr Sam Egwu, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the occasion, guests included Senator Joy Emordi, Chairperson, Senate Committee on Education, Honourable Farouk Lawan, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Education and Honourable Dave Salako, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Communications.
All the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities that participated in the tournament, Diplomats, Senior Media executives as well as other stakeholders in the Educational sector were also present at the event.
To kick off the event, guests watched a pre-recorded broadcast of the Zain Africa Challenge final between University of Ibadan and Kenyatta University, projected from a large format screen. The dexterity displayed by the Nigerian trio of Nnaemeka Nwachukwu, Olatunji Ayoola Olalere and Tolulope Oloruntoba, who incidentally were seated as guests, drew thunderous applause and admiration from everyone that was present at the event.

In his welcome remark, the Chairman of Zain Nigeria, Mr. Gamaliel Onosode, OFR, an alumnus of the University of Ibadan, said the enviable feat by University of Ibadan and the University of Lagos (a semi-finalist) clearly demonstrates that Nigeria still has an oasis of healthy, strongly growing minds. He commended the champions and urged them to ensure that they retain the title next season.
Specifically, he showered encomiums on the students that represented University of Ibadan for their display of outstanding brainpower and intellectual acumen, also praising them for bringing honour and glory to their country. He further urged University of Ibadan to continue in its stride and go all out in the coming season of the competition, to defend their title and prove that their victory was no fluke.

A visibly elated Egwu commended Zain for the initiative and the interest in human development. He confessed that “I always remain glued to the TV whenever this programme in on air and I wish to invite other network operators to emulate this laudable initiative”. While congratulating the winners, he revealed that six Nigerian universities have already been earmarked as centres of educational excellence, to compete among the best in the world.

Commenting on the Zain Africa Challenge initiative, Mwambu Wanendeya, Communications Director for Zain Africa noted that by supporting education Zain is assisting the various African governments to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals which include to achieve full and productive employment for all it citizens, including women and young people and to halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. In addition, he said, Zain was partnering with governments to try to ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere will be able to at least complete a full course of primary schooling.

This commitment to promote education, he disclosed, was one of the reasons behind the conception of the Zain Africa Challenge.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Olufemi Bamiro commended Zain for organizing the pan-African academic quiz show, describing the initiative as a fantastic and unique Corporate Social Responsibility programme.
“This competition has shown clearly that Africa has the talent to develop Africa. Like Zain, we all need to put our hand on the deck and keep creating an enabling environment for the development of our great nation,” Bamiro said.

Echoing similar sentiment, the House of Representatives Chairman on Education, Hon. Farouk Lawan described the Zain Africa Challenge as a timely CSR intervention. “The first time I saw the programme (Zain Africa Challenge) on Television I was very excited that I called all my children to join me in watching the programme because of its rich educational content. As a matter of fact, Zain needs to be commended for choosing education as one of its CSR platforms,” he said.

In her remarks, Joy Emordi, Chairman: Senate Committee on Education commended Zain for re-directing the value system in Nigeria by throwing its full weight behind a CSR initiative that will truly benefit Nigerians. She said rather than getting involved in sponsorship of some meaningless dance and beauty shows, companies in Nigeria should emulate Zain by bankrolling educational activities that will lift Nigerian students and youths.

Other Nigerian universities rewarded with institutional and students’ grants were Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Federal University of Technology, Akure; University of Lagos and the overall winner of the quiz competition, University of Ibadan.

The Zain Africa Challenge is an eloquent testimony of the Company’s commitment to the advancement of humanity through its support for education as well as its social investments and community initiatives. As a responsible corporate citizen of the world, Zain has proven yet again that it is not only a telecommunications service provider but also a dependable ally of the governments and peoples of Africa.

Apart from the prizes and international exposure which the students have received from the Zain Africa Challenge, Zain has also created a unique platform for building and strengthening regional friendships and international co-operations. For the participants, life can never be the same again, with new friends from across the continent.

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