Africa’s Teens Plan to Improve the Future Through the Use of STEM

Students aged 14-18 from 50+ African nations join youth from 130+ countries at the Olympics-style robotics competition – FIRST Global


For Immediate Release
9 August 2018

Alexandria, VA. – FIRST Global ( is hosting the second iteration of the world’s only international robot Olympics for high school students this August in Mexico City, with more than 180 nations in attendance, including teams from nearly every African nation. With each country planning to send one team to represent their nation at this truly global event, participating teams will include attendees from every corner of the world, from Afghanistan to Bhutan, Syria to South Sudan, Israel to Iran, and Native Americans to displaced Kurds.

For full list of participating African nations, see image below.

With a mission to spread science and technology leadership and innovation among the world’s more than two billion youth, FIRST Global has worked to ensure that countries from all six populated continents would be represented at the 2018 FIRST Global Challenge – especially those that have the most to gain from investments in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and infrastructure.

The theme of this year’s FIRST Global Challenge event is “Energy Impact”, highlighting the importance of various energy sources and looking into how we can make them more sustainable. Teams will align with each other to fuel power plants, activate renewable energy sources, and build a resilient transmission network. This competition will not only provide an opportunity for students around the world to learn and discover more about the exciting world of robotics, but will also teach them the importance of working together with their peers — regardless of their place of origin, creed, religion, or race — to build a better tomorrow.

Like many regions of the world, Africa is faced with innumerable challenges that threaten stability, security, and future, from a lack of reliable electricity to outdated infrastructure, limited access to education and employments, and unresolved military and social conflicts. Many organizations and individuals are working together and with African collaborators to provide resources and support needed to help inspire and prepare African youth. FIRST Global is proud to be a part of this community.

Among the African countries that have committed to participate in this year’s FIRST Global Challenge are Nigeria, Burundi, South Africa, and Seychelles. They — like so many others — understand that the youth of their nations are their most valuable resources, and that this untapped treasure has the potential to bring about immense changes across the continent.

Teacher Remi Willoughby has taken it upon herself to ensure Nigerian youth are not only gaining STEM skills, but also developing “soft skills,” such as critical thinking, teamwork, dedication, and time management, that aren’t always taught in schools. As Remi said, “One of the things that drives my passion for robotics is the potential I see in our children, which, if we nurture it well, Nigeria will become the country we all love to see.”

Team Nigeria’s profile video


The students of Team Burundi are a combination of all of the three tribes of Burundi and serve as a great symbol of unity in a country that has been greatly impacted by ethnic and political challenges since its independence. These students had no prior robotics experience, and yet thanks to the drive of their mentor, who sold his only cow in order to buy a robot kit for the team, they see the true power of technology and aim to use their imagination and creativity to transmit their skills to other Burundian youth to support their nation and the world.

Team Burundi’s profile video


For participants like those of Team South Africa, this Challenge represents an opportunity to support the brilliant minds that will someday bring about positive changes in the world. This team has already worked to implement the first robotics program in their school, and hope that they will be able to continue working with the other teams they meet in an effort to create a unified, global STEM community and to especially support more young girls and women engaging in these fields.

Team South Africa’s profile video 


Like many other Africans, Team Seychelles believes that the role women play in developing technology in the region will play a crucial role in Africa’s economic future. Not only is FIRST Global hosting a number of all-female or female-majority teams at this year’s event, but over 60 percent of the teams attending the 2018 FIRST Global Challenge were either founded, organized, or are being led by women.

One member of Team Seychelles was particularly excited to participate on this all-girls team because it is a chance to show women across the region that, despite the challenges they face today, they are capable of developing their STEM skills and excelling in a field that has historically marginalized them, but is shaping the future of their continent.

Team Seychelles’ profile video


FIRST Global is committed to working with all nations to underscore the importance of STEM education in order to create more secure and prosperous livelihoods so all peoples can economically benefit. Although Africa has seen sustained economic growth in recent years largely due to its plethora of natural resources, Africa as a whole can realize a rise in its standards of living and overall economic growth through the pursuit and development of technology and innovation. By stressing the importance of developing STEM skills and convincing governments and non-government organizations alike to focus their efforts on investing in their youth, future generations can help Africa become one of the most technologically developed regions in the world.

African Nations Attending the 2018 FIRST Global Challenge

National Teams: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Continental Team: Team Africa (Represented by The Gambia).

Total: 52 teams

To learn more, contact:

À Propos FIRST Global
FIRST Global’s mission is to inspire science and technology leadership and innovation in young people from all nations in order to increase understanding, instill the importance of cooperation, address the world’s most pressing issues, and improve the quality of life for all. By showing the youth of the world that if they communicate, cooperate, and work together – even in a competition – using the tools of science and engineering to find solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, they will be able to accomplish great things and become part of a truly global community. For more information, visit FIRST Global’s website, Facebook, Twitter, et YouTube pages.