Nji Collins Gbah: 17-Year Cameroonian Becomes First African To Win Google’s Code-In Competition



This is one of those times you can boldly say that the universe is on your side. Nji Collins Gbah is a Cameroonian teenager who has emerged the first African to win the Google Code-In competition.

The 17-year old beat all the odds and met up with the deadline. Nji was lucky enough to conclude the tasks of the competition a day before the internet was blocked in the English speaking parts of the country.

Internet connectivity was blocked in the North-West and South-West of Cameroon on the 18th January.

2 weeks after the internet was shut down, Nji received news that he had been selected as one of the 34 Grand Prize winners in the Google Code-In global challenge.

The code-in competition was open to teenage pre-university students between the ages of 13 and 17. Over 1,300 youngsters from 62 countries participated in the 2017 competition.

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It came in 5 different categories which summed up to about 20 tasks.

“I was really, really amazed. It meant my hard work writing a lot of code had really paid off,”

Njiis a student whose school in Bameda is currently on strike. Teachers of the English-speaking area went on strike and joined forces with lawyers and activists accusing the government of discrimination.

They took to the internet to lay out their grievances. An act which the government has frowned at, thus led to the shut down of the internet in the area.

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Nji would have missed out winning the international competition if he did not move in with his cousin in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital.

“I wanted to get a connection so I could continue studying and keep in touch with Google,”

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As part of his prize Nji would be embarking on a 4-day visit to Google’s headquarters in Silicon Valley in June to meet with its top engineers.

“Hopefully I would like to work there one day, if that is possible,”

“I’m trying to develop my own model for data compression, using deep learning and machine learning.”

For 2 years, the young boy learnt how to code though books and online materials. While hopes that his school in Bamenda will call off the strike, Nji says he intends to study computer science at a good university.

According to BBC, Bamenda, is a city of 500,000 and also home to one of the continent’s brightest young technologists, Nji.

Nji Collins Gbah leaves young people with these words of advice,

“The only thing I want to say is focus on studies,” 

“Get to know more about the opportunities that are around you and go to sites which have real information about opportunities like this.”

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