Huawei actively develops African ICT talent

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 12 Apr 2022
Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, speaking at the launch of Huawei’s LEAP ICT development programme.
Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, speaking at the launch of Huawei’s LEAP ICT development programme.

Huawei has embarked on a digital talent development programme in an effort to advance ICT skills in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Announced at its ICT Competition Awards Ceremony at the weekend, Huawei’s LEAP programme aims to train 100 000 people in digital skills over the next three years.

This comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital adoption, while also exposing the digital skills gap that persists on the African continent.

A study by the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank, found that 230 million jobs across the continent will require some level of digital skills by 2030.

LEAP − which is short for leadership, employability, advancement and possibilities − will foster digital leadership, create a skilled ICT workforce, build a digital talent pool and promote digital literacy among Sub-Saharan African citizens, reveals Huawei.

Huawei Southern Africa president Leo Chen stressed the importance of ICT skills transfer and talent development, calling on collaboration between government, industry and academia to create an ecosystem that everyone can contribute to and benefit from.

“Digitisation is deeply rooted in people. Because we digitise for people and by people,” he says. “Through the programme, we strive to cultivate more youth leaders in ICT, who can explore more possibilities for themselves, their families, community and ultimately their nations.”

The programme’s launch was also attended by Sub-Saharan African ministers in the ICT, education, science and communications portfolios, including minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.

Says Ntshavheni: “COVID-19 took us into the digital era, but we should not need a pandemic to do this for us in the future; we need to be deliberate and intentional to leapfrog our countries.

“We need innovation, we need to support local innovators, and we need to promote our own platforms throughout the continent to reach scale and develop our economies. We are only bigger when our market is bigger, and we must walk together.”

Ntshavheni’s counterpart professor Eliamani Sadoyeka, Tanzania’s permanent secretary in the ministry of education science and technology, stressed that Africa’s future is in the hands of its youth population.

“ICT has given us almost equal access to knowledge. Once a young mind is connected, a girl from the village in Africa will have the same access to knowledge as a boy in Copenhagen,” he says.

According to Huawei, LEAP will see more than 1 200 instructors facilitate 3 000 ICT courses.

Furthermore, it will fund a number of facilities, including training centres, hardware installation bases, innovation hubs, mirror labs and ICT academies. Huawei currently has ICT academies at more than 300 universities and colleges in the region.

Some of the digital initiatives Huawei’s rolled out over the years include the training of 6 000 South African post-graduate ICT students or practitioners in 5G and fourth industrial revolution technologies.

In June 2020, Huawei and the South African College Principals Organisation joined forces to cultivate ICT talent in Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges. The partnership was extended in December of that year.