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Digital Inclusion

MWC Shanghai 2024: Huawei to train 150,000 African youth

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Chinese ICT company Huawei has committed to providing digital skills training for 150,000 young people in sub-Saharan Africa over the next three years, using its LEAP (Leadership, Employability, Advancement and Possibility) program.

The commitment was made by Gao Xiang, president of Huawei sub-Saharan Africa, at the Huawei LEAP Summit 2024, taking place on the sidelines of MWC Shanghai in China this week.

Back in April 2022, Huawei announced it would train 100,000 young people with digital skills over three years. Xiang said that as of June 2024, the company had exceeded this goal and had trained over 120,000 young people using its various skills development programs.

"Over the past few years, we have made a massive improvement in talent development across African countries, but this will not have been possible without joint efforts from government agencies and the industry," said Xiang.

Now Huawei plans to grow the program to train an additional 150,000 young people over the next three years.

The LEAP Summit in Shanghai focused on ICT talent and sustainable development for sub-Saharan Africa with government officials and ambassadors from a number of African nations in attendance.

Zimbabwe's Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, Dr. Tatenda Annastacia Mavetera, commended Huawei for training over 3,000 young people in her country via its programs like Seeds for the Future and the Huawei ICT Academy.

Globally Huawei's Seeds for the Future program has trained more than 2.2 million digital people in over 150 countries and the company's ICT Academy can train about 200,000 students each year.

In 2021, Huawei announced it had already invested US$150 million and planned to invest another US$150 million in global digital talent development before 2026, but how much is earmarked for Africa had not been disclosed.

Minister Mavetera said that Zimbabwe's strategy to digitalize its ICT services is in line with its Vision 2030 strategy and the digitalization efforts require that Zimbabwe's people "are capacitated with adequate digital skills" she said.

"It is an opportune time for us as leaders to also be seen contributing towards youth empowerment and youth development. The youth should not just wait for the future, but indeed, they should also contribute towards building the future," she added.

Opportunities for Africa's youth

John Omo, the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) Secretary General, also spoke at the Summit, calling for more opportunities for young Africans to embrace the digital economy and grow their skills.

"The number of young people that are craving opportunities for self-actualization in Africa is amazing, yet we have not afforded them the opportunity that they so need to realize their full potential. The median age of youth in Africa is 19 years old, and so the potential of that population, I believe, is enormous," Omo told delegates in Shanghai.

"Most of [these young people] that have access to ICT services use it for information and entertainment but not for production and not for education. We need to ensure that [the youth] is using ICT systems and services for the purposes of learning and production," Omo added.

African Telecommunications Union Secretary General, John Omo, speaking at the Huawei LEAP Summit 2024, on the sidelines of MWC Shanghai 2024 in China.   (Source: Connecting Africa)
African Telecommunications Union Secretary General, John Omo, speaking at the Huawei LEAP Summit 2024, on the sidelines of MWC Shanghai 2024 in China.
(Source: Connecting Africa)

Sophia Nantongo, Undersecretary of Uganda's Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, talked about how the high price of Internet services and the price of gadgets or devices like smartphones were hindering access to ICT for the youth of Uganda.

"We call upon Huawei to come to Uganda and establish manufacturing plants and assembly plants. This will bring down the price of the gadgets, and it will increase accessibility to our smart villages," she said.

Dr. Beatrice Muganda Inyangala, Principal Secretary of the State Department for Higher Education and Research for Kenya's Ministry of Education, called for more collaboration and training at Kenya's higher education institutions in order to "count more outputs" and "celebrate greater outcomes" by empowering more universities to be training houses for Huawei.

"I think the examples that we have seen here where Huawei is working with the private sector in Africa, with the governments in Africa for purposes of facilitating access, is something that we applaud. Digital skills development and access to ICTs is not about ICTs – it's about people. It's about empowering people to participate sufficiently in the digital economy," added Omo.

He said the ATU is committed to working with governments and the private sector across Africa.

"I invite you all to join us, to join Huawei, to join everybody in this ecosystem to ensure that we give our youth hope, we give our youth a future, but not just a future, that will give them a present," Omo concluded.

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*Top image source: Image by wirestock on Freepik

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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