Huawei has announced the launch of its LEAP digital skills development programme at Huawei’s ICT Competition Awards Ceremony on 9 April 2022. The LEAP programme aims to help advance the ICT skills of more than 100,000 people across the Sub-Saharan Africa region within three years, according to the Chinese tech conglomerate.
LEAP – an acronym for Leadership, Employability, Advancement and Possibilities – is aimed at fostering strong digital leadership and a skilled ICT workforce, building a digital talent pool, and promoting digital literacy among citizens. It includes a wide range of activities spanning from ICT training and certification courses to government digital capacity building and ICT skills competitions.
Launching the LEAP programme, Huawei Southern Africa President, Leo Chen stressed the importance of ICT skills transfer and talent development and underlined Huawei’s consistent emphasis on it.
“Digitisation is deeply rooted in people. Because we digitise for people and by people. When roots are deep, there is no need to fear the wind,” he said.
“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.”
According to the company, Huawei has, over the past two decades, helped advance the ICT skills of more than 80,000 people across the sub-Saharan Africa region. In doing so, it says it has helped increase youth employability and bridge the gender gap in the ICT industry. Huawei itself is an employer of choice in the region. Its subsidiaries in 9 Sub-Saharan African countries earned the Top Employer seal in 2021.
Speaking at the ceremony, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, South African Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies said, “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.”
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Tanzania, Prof. Eliamani Sadoyeka stressed that the power of ICT should never be underestimated.
They said, “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 said.
He also touched on the fact that Africa’s future is in the hands of its youth population and urged the students to take full advantage of every learning opportunity. He commended Huawei for its ICT Academy which is giving young people the platform and skills in the latest technologies as well as giving them the opportunity to live up to their fullest potential.
The Digital Skills Landscape in Sub-Saharan Africa
According to Huawei, the pandemic has spurred digital adoption across Africa. This increases the demand for more digital skills and talent. According to a World Bank, study on Digital Skills in Sub-Saharan Africa, over 230-million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030.
More than 15 000 students from over 200 universities and colleges in Sub-Saharan Africa participated in the 2021-2022 Huawei ICT Competition. From the 48 competing teams, Nigerian and Kenyan teams won first prize in the regional final. Teams from Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania claimed the second prize.
“Huawei’s ICT Competition has provided students like me with a network of industry trainers, instructors, and learning tools, allowing us to obtain a competitive advantage and engage with other students on a global stage,” said Ashtone Onyango, a member of the winning Kenyan team. “This is crucial for students as it not only helps them enhance their abilities but also increases their job market competitiveness.”
Real African Solutions to African Problems
The South African team which reached the top ten of the 2021 Huawei Global Tech4Good Competition for designing an intrusion detection system that uses wireless and cloud technologies to curb rhino poaching was honoured with a Top Performance Prize.
“My proudest moment was learning that out of the 117 teams from around the world who participated in the Tech4Good challenge, we were part of the top 10 and the only team from the African continent,” said Siyabonga Shandu, who was part of the South Africa intrusion detection system team. “It goes to show we have the capacity and capabilities to create, innovate and build real African solutions to African problems.”
The Huawei ICT competition has grown into the biggest competition of its kind in Africa and across the globe, Huawei says. It offers a global stage for students to showcase and practice their ICT knowledge and skills. Over the past 5 years, 80,000 university students from Africa registered for the competition, and more than 20 teams entered the global finals.
The LEAP programme will be rolled out based on the company’s investment in the region and will see more than 1,200 instructors facilitate 3,000 ICT courses.
It will also 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.
At the ceremony, Leo Chen also called for close collaboration between government, industry, and academia to create an ecosystem that everyone can contribute to and benefit from.
For more information, please visit Huawei online at www.huawei.com.