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Feature: Luban Workshop advances knowledge sharing, talent development in Ethiopia

Updated: March 20, 2024 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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ADDIS ABABA, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Kalkidan Kibrete, a fourth-year student at the FDRE (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia) Technical and Vocational Training Institute majoring in electrical automation and control, joyfully reflects on her two-year journey at the spacious and well-equipped Luban Workshop in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

As one of the first batch of students enrolled at the Chinese-built Ethiopian Luban Workshop, Kibrete has had the privilege of witnessing the workshop's growth from its inception. Courtesy of the technical knowledge and practical skills that she garnered at the Luban Workshop, the 21-year-old is equipped with an array of skills ranging from mechatronics to industrial robotics.

Her tech strength was recently manifested in her participation in the China-Africa Friendship Competition in Industrial Robotics, where she secured third place. "As a student of the Luban Workshop, I have experienced a multitude of technological solutions that are uncommon in our institute and other places across Ethiopia," she said.

The workshop facility, launched in April 2021 within the institute's premises, was established by China's Tianjin University of Technology and Education under the guidance of the Ministry of Education of China. It mainly specializes in courses in industrial robotics technology, mechatronics technology, industrial control technology, and industrial sensor technology, offering valuable skills for Ethiopian students in various technological fields.

Kibrete and fellow students attest that the workshop is already leaving its mark on the lives of many aspiring Ethiopians, providing them with exceptional training in various fields.

Kibrete's aspiration extends beyond personal growth as she expects to share her technological knowledge and skills with fellow Ethiopian youth, ultimately contributing to the development and progress of Ethiopia in the mechatronics and industrial robotics sectors.

More than a dozen workshops in the name of Lu Ban, a craftsman in ancient China, have emerged across the African continent in the past five years. Providing high-level vocational education for young Africans, these workshops symbolize an integral facet of Sino-African cooperation in talent development.

Yonas Amsalu is another young tech and mechanical enthusiast who has been undertaking practical training at the Ethiopian Luban Workshop with the help of Chinese instructors. Reflecting on his experience, Amsalu emphasized the significance of unique courses offered at the Luban Workshop, which he said are not commonly available in Ethiopia or elsewhere in the African continent.

The young man, in particular, singled out the workshop's specialization in human-machine interface and programmable logic control systems, which he described as "highly relevant" to the modern industrial landscape, where automation and robotics have become ubiquitous.

He argued that the skills he and fellow Ethiopian students acquired at the workshop play a paramount role in bridging the technological gap witnessed in the East African country's industrial landscape.

Amsalu recalled an internship experience in one of the Ethiopian industrial facilities, where his proficiency in human-machine interface and programmable logic control systems enabled him to troubleshoot and resolve issues without relying on external assistance.

"I strongly believe that the Luban Workshop has equipped us with the skills and technological know-how needed to contribute to and drive the technological advancements of our country," he said.

Four teachers are working at the Luban Workshop at the moment to guide students through practical training courses. Jiang Jiang, head of the workshop and also the only Chinese teacher, said that the long-term goal is to train enough Ethiopian talent who will eventually be able to teach Ethiopian students. The sentiment was also echoed by Haftom Gebregziabher, deputy director-general of the FDRE Technical and Vocational Training Institute, as he emphasized the workshop is serving as a capacity-building hub both for the students as well as industry practitioners across the country.

"As an institute, our aim is to be a center of excellence in East Africa and we have international students drawn from East African countries. The center (the Luban Workshop), armed with state-of-the-art equipment of international standard, is not only dedicated to strengthening our local industry but also a center of capacity building for the wider East African region as well," Gebregziabher said.

Editor: Tian Shenyoujia