Godwin Nwangele, a 25-year-old graduate of Electrical and Electronics Engineering graduate from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, has won the 2020 Rhodes Scholarship for West Africa. He is the second Nigerian and the fourth recipient of the prestigious scholarships from the sub-continent since it was relaunched in 2017.
Established in the will of Cecil John Rhodes in 1902, the Rhodes Scholarship is the world’s most preeminent post-graduate scholarship scheme supporting exceptionally bright students from across the globe to study at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. Nwangele will join 100 other “Scholar-Elects” from around the world to commence studies at Oxford in October 2020.
A total of 2,783 applications were received from intending scholars across the region out of which 121 that graduated with a First Class degree or its equivalent were longlisted for screening before being pruned to a shortlist of 45. Only 25 candidates made it to the pre-interview stage and, after further assessment via phone or Skype, 10 were invited for a final round of in-person interviews where Nwangele emerged tops.
“This is the third scholar selection exercise since the re-introduction of the Scholarships, and the job isn’t any easier for the Selection Committee. Besides academic excellence, other important selection criteria include moral force of character, commitment to service and the instinct to lead, and all ten finalists possess these qualities”, said Ike Chioke, National Secretary for the Rhodes Scholarship for West Africa.
“At the end, there could only be one winner from the sub-continent for the 2020 scholarship season. And, while it was a very difficult choice to make, the members of the committee all agree that – for Godwin – this is an award well deserved. We have no doubt that he will excel in his chosen field and do the continent proud, and we also have faith that all the other finalists will go on to achieve great things.”
A recipient of several academic and leadership awards, Nwangele graduated in 2017 as ‘Best Student in Engineering’ at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and he was also recognised as ‘Overall Best Graduating Engineer’ in Nigeria by the Committee of Deans of Engineering and Technology of Nigerian Universities (CODET) at the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) conference in 2018.
His innate knack for problem-solving and strong passion for developing home-grown solutions to Africa’s peculiar power challenges led him to start up several enterprises, including Greenage Technologies, Greenage Electric and Power-Ring – all innovative energy and electrical engineering companies – growing them from a near zero value to million dollar valuation.
In just two years of operations, Greenage has deployed well over 300 smart energy systems in about 20 states of the federation, and has been recognised for its work in the renewable energy space. These include a nomination for The Future Africa Award for Science and Technology, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Technology Award, USADF/ALL-ON Energy Award, among others.
While expressing his joy and appreciation at being selected as the beneficiary of the 2020 Rhodes Scholarships for West Africa, Nwangele, who intends to study Energy Systems at Oxford, noted: “Now, the goal is to deepen my technical knowledge, enhance my leadership skills, build valuable networks and develop a global strategy that would help to grow the vision of energy sustainability in Africa and beyond.”
The Rhodes Scholarships cover all university and college fees, a personal stipend for room and board, health insurance and travel, as well as the costs of the Rhodes Leadership Development Programme at Rhodes House. The total value of the scholarship could range from £50,000 to £60,000 per annum, with the average tenure for a Rhodes Scholar being three years.
For 117 years, the Rhodes Trust has provided transformative opportunities for exceptional young leaders from around the world. Launched in May 2017, the West Africa Scholarship is open to students from Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Sierra Leone, São Tomé and Principe, and Togo.