Networking giant Cisco South Africa has selected the Eastern Cape as the fourth location of its digital skills development centre.
Located at the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) Science and Technology Park, Cisco’s latest Experience, Design, Go to Market and Earn (EDGE) Centre has been launched in partnership with the Eastern Cape Provincial Government.
The EDGE Centre, situated near three major universities in the area, aims to develop digital skills in the region, says Cisco.
The focus will also be on enhancing the employability of the community, as well as enabling the Eastern Cape’s transition into a digital-forward region, it states.
Says Smangele Nkosi, GM of Cisco in South Africa: “Guided by our purpose to ‘power an inclusive future for all’ in partnership with government, we are committed to leveraging our people, processes, technology and our unmatched network of industry partners to help bridge the digital divide. We already have several initiatives in place, and the ELIDZ and Cisco’s EDGE Centre will bring industry-leading technologies to the region.”
Cisco opened its first EDGE Centre in the country in 2019 at the Dube Trade Port in KwaZulu-Natal. Similar initiatives followed in Cape Town, Pretoria and now East London.
The centres provide small businesses with enablement and industry specialisations, as well as access to workspaces, conferencing and training facilities, and to global Cisco experts.
Through the centres, small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) are given access to best of breed products and high-speed broadband connectivity, to create new job opportunities for the citizens.
“SMMEs are a critical growth driver to meet the National Development Plan targets. Cisco can make a difference in the way these businesses work, digitally connect, interact and learn in South Africa,” says Simphiwe Kondlo, CEO of the ELIDZ.
“As an expansion of its CDA programme, the multimillion-rand Cisco EDGE Centre investment in East London will provide much-needed access to managed workspaces of the future, with Cisco Meraki high-speed broadband services, Webex collaboration-enabled facilities, skills and talent development programmes through Cisco’s Networking Academy.”
Cisco was responsible for the infrastructure and building investment of the EDGE Centre, as well as providing workstations for access to all Cisco NetAcad training courses. Cisco will operate the centre for two years to assist in SMME enablement in the region.
In addition, the centre will host hackathons to stimulate more interest in technology skills development in the Eastern Cape.
Nonkqubela Jordan-Dyani, acting director-general at the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, says: “We call on all organisations to collaborate with government and play a role in helping aid the transition into a digitally-transformed economy for the Eastern Cape, with its historical high unemployment rate and poverty levels.
“The skills development facilitated through the Cisco EDGE Centre will support government in its objective to prepare for skills of the future and build digital citizens. Cisco is introducing access to its NetAcad offerings to people looking to upskill themselves and provide for their families, and is growing and developing SMMEs that are vital to our economic growth. We are also looking forward to the innovation coming out of the centre.”
Cisco notes the establishment of the centres is a key pillar of its Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme, which aims to help accelerate digitisation and make the benefits of the internet and technology available to broad groups of society.
The CDA programmehas developed strategic partnerships with governments across the globe and is now active in 44 countries, with more than 1 200 active or completed projects aimed at unlocking the true value of mass-scale digitisation, according to Cisco.
Nkosi concludes: “The EDGE centres programme is proving to be a game-changing approach to helping the country drive digitisation from within, which has already resulted in over 100 training sessions completed, with 880 individuals trained, as well as 120 SMME companies actively involved in the initiative.
“As technology leaders, we have a moral responsibility to help connect people and equip them with the digital skills essential for the modern workplace.”