Microsoft ADC launches Season 4 of university students’ coding competition

by Amref Health Africa

The Game of Learners initiative is organised as a hackathon and is this year being implemented in partnership with Population Services International (PSI) and AMREF Health Africa to guide learners in developing possible tech solutions for the health sector.  

NAIROBI, Kenya – March 13, 2023… University students from Kenya and some parts of Africa can now apply to participate in season 4 of the Microsoft Africa Development Centre’s (ADC) Game of Learners (GOL) competition. The GOL initiative provides an opportunity for African university students, aspiring software engineers and solution builders to improve their technical and coding abilities while creating solutions to current challenges facing the continent and the world.  

In this year’s competition, participants will be working to develop possible technology solutions that can address different health challenges, including how to improve healthcare service provision in their localities or other parts of the world. The program runs as a 5-week hackathon with teams captained by Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors crafting the innovations while receiving technical training from Microsoft’s professionals.  

“Since we launched Game of Learners four years ago, we have seen incredible development in the learner’ skills through each season as they create incredibly clever solutions to some of Africa’s pressing problems using Microsoft technology,” said Ruth Ferland, Senior Program Manager at ADC and the founder of the Game of Learners Program. “This year’s theme will allow the participants to plug into an area that has enormous potential to impact lives across the continent and indeed around the world.” 

The students will benefit from the instruction of 32 coaches and more than 20 advisors who will guide them through the process of learning new technologies and building their solutions. The coaches, mentors, judges, speakers and trainers will consist of volunteers from Microsoft and partners, who for season 4 will include PSI and AMREF Health Africa.  

At the end of the season, the winning team will be eligible for awards, including collaboration with GOL Season 4 partners to advance their solution and entry into the Microsoft Imagine Cup, where they will present their innovation on a global stage. 

“This partnership with Microsoft is part of a larger initiative to increase the talent pool of individuals working in Digital Health across Africa”, said Martin Dale, Population Services International’s (PSI) Global Director of Digital Health. “There is so much talent graduating from our universities and Game of Learners is a great opportunity for students to dig in and create solutions that make health care more accessible to all.”, he continued. 

Speaking about the initiative, Samuel Weru, AMREF Health Africa Group ICT Director, challenged students to apply for the program and be part of the drive towards creating home-grown solutions for Africa’s challenges.  

“As a continent that has historically had serious healthcare challenges, we need the kind of ideas that can only come from the youth to revitalise healthcare service provision. There are myriad opportunities ranging from health informatics and telemedicine to big data analysis and system security for the learners to explore. We are eager to work with the teams to create solutions that have the potential to change Africa and the world,” Samuel Weru, AMREF Health Africa Group ICT Director.

In total, Season 4 will have 16 teams, each made up of 4 learners, 2 men and 2 women, drawn from all over the continent. The virtual competition is open to students of accredited universities and colleges in sub-Saharan Africa, who will be vetted as per the requirements after submitting an online application.  

“The program is designed to provide a fun, hands-on learning experience while creating a virtual environment that transcends borders to allow young minds to collaborate and drive the advancement of Africa into a global innovation hub. Having gender-balanced teams further ties into our mission of promoting diversity and inclusion within the tech industry,” explains Ferland.  

Designed like a sports league, each 5-week season of Game of Learners is followed by a month-long season of GOL Clinic and GOL exhibitions to accord individuals seeking deeper hands-on technical experience and specialised training from Microsoft and GOL partners. 


About Microsoft 

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. 

About the ADC 

Microsoft launched the Africa Development Centre (ADC) in 2019 with an initial site within Microsoft offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and another in Lagos, Nigeria. The centre’s goal is to attract world-class African engineering talent to create innovative solutions spanning the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge. Since its inception in Nairobi in 2019, the ADC has grown to over 500 full-time employees working in areas such as software engineering, machine learning, data science, market research, infrastructure, and much more. 

About PSI 

Population Services International (PSI) is a global non-profit organization focused on encouraging healthy behaviour and delivering affordable health products and services around the world. PSI takes a business approach to saving lives and designing effective, sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges in healthcare. 

About AMREF 

Amref Health Africa was founded in 1957 as the Flying Doctors of East Africa, providing critical health care to remote communities in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The organisation has since grown to become the largest African-based international health development organisation. We are currently implementing more than 140 programs, directly reaching more than 12 million people across 35 African countries. Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, Amref Health Africa has offices in seven country offices in Africa and an additional eleven advocacy and fundraising offices in Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Sweden (covering Nordic countries), the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In 2019 we operated on an annual budget of approximately US$ 115 million. 

The partnership is central to Amref Health Africa’s strategy and the organisation has a long history of partnering with a diverse range of global, regional and national institutions for both long-term and goal-specific projects. Our leadership on the international stage is also expansive. We are a member of the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) and sit in the Secretariat of GHWA’s African HRH Platform. We chair and host the Africa Health Leadership and Management Network (AHLMN) with a membership of 33 African and international organizations. Our Group CEO (Dr Githinji Gitahi) and Prof Ilona Kickbusch are the Co-Chair of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) 2030, the WHO forum for achieving UHC. 

Amref Health Africa has a wealth of experience and has provided technical assistance to a number of organisations and agencies. The Africa Union (AU) consulted us in the development and review of their accountability framework for health; in the development of their RMNCH agenda; and in supporting Guinea in rebuilding its health system following the devastating effects of Ebola. We have entered agreements with UNICEF, UNFPA, and WHO were consulted in the development of strategy meetings for UNICEF/UNFPA as well as developing RMNCH indicators for SDG and program for ending Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM). We are part of the East Africa Community (EAC)’s East Africa Health Platform which provides insights to the regional body. Out technical staff supported WHO in the drafting, editing and review of WHO documents with major primary health care (PHC) implications, such as the National Policies and National Strategic Plans for the Health Laboratory Services of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan among others. We are working with Results for Development (R4D) to host of the Strategic Purchasing Africa Resource Centre (SPARC), a Centre that provides technical assistance to governments, local organisations and the private sector to strengthen strategic health purchasing in sub-Saharan Africa. 

You may also like

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More