The transformative power of technology education, giving back to communities and continuous learning were the key messages from speakers attending the annual Huawei Seeds for the Future 2023 programme launch in Woodmead, Johannesburg yesterday.
Seeds for the Future is Huawei’s global CSR flagship ICT student training programme, running in South Africa since 2016 in partnership with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT). So far, 102 students have benefitted from the programme, which aims to ensure that tech-savvy and change-resilient young people have the skills and mindsets needed to be competitive in the workplaces of the future.
The key focus areas for this year are digitalisation, innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainability.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Philly Mapulane said; “Together, we must ensure that the benefits of the digital age are accessible to all, regardless of
background or circumstances. Scaling up skills development to support innovation and the digital revolution is an investment in the future. It’s not only about empowering individuals with the tools to succeed but also about driving economic growth and societal progress.”
The Deputy Minister expressed the department’s appreciation for Huawei’s partnership and collaboration in a broad range of initiatives aimed at nurturing ICT skills, including Seeds for the Future.
“It has been seven years since the initiative started and it remains an important platform in our pursuit of bridging the digital divide,” he added.
This year, Huawei has recruited 12 outstanding candidates from universities in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Free State and Gauteng. The program also targets a 50-50 gender split.
“Undoubtedly, South Africa’s digital economy development depends on ICT infrastructure development, but without an abundant and sustainable ICT talent supply, the target will be too far to reach,” said Kian Chen, Deputy CEO, Huawei South Africa. “I trust that is why the DCDT has been engaging with all partners to develop the ICT skills for the youth. Huawei is honoured to be one of the important partners in this journey.”
“We want to cultivate young people who are socially responsible and innovative,” he added. “We want our Seeds to think about how technology can be used in the future to solve complex global problems, such as climate change, and the green transition.”
During the event, Seeds for the Future alumni who are now Huawei employees shared their experiences of the programme and their growth at Huawei, which proves the programme not only provides a learning platform but also a career path for South Africa’s outstanding youth.
Among them was Siyabonga Thomas Shandu, a University of Johannesburg graduate who now works as a project lead at Huawei.
“In my two years at Huawei, I’ve been privileged to contribute to the Openserve FTTH (Fibre to The Home) Project, witnessing more South African households and businesses being connected with Openserve Fibre,” he said. “This journey has not only been about numbers but about growth – both personal and professional growth.”
Munyai Vhutuhawe, a computer science graduate from the University of Limpopo, who works as an IT Facility & Equipment Engineer at Huawei, said; “In 2021, when I participated in the programme, our team made it to the top three globally, in the Seeds for the Future Tech4Good competition, for our project aimed at protecting South Africa’s rhino population from illegal poaching.”
University of the Witwatersrand graduate and current Huawei IP Technical Engineer Basani Mathebula described the programme as a “transformative experience” that provided her with a “unique platform to dive deep into the world of technology and gain valuable hands-on knowledge.”
“It has not only equipped me with technical skills,” she said of the programme, “but has also nurtured my passion for innovation and fueled my aspirations to contribute to the telecommunications industry as a wireless, microwave and IP Technical Engineer in the MTN Huawei Project.”
Kim Smalls, one of this year’s students, spoke about how much she was looking forward to grasping the opportunities presented by Seeds for the Future.
“Imagine a world where technology breaks down barriers, where opportunities are accessible to all, and where innovation drives positive change,” she said. “This is the world we can create together. As we embark on this Seeds journey, let us embrace the excitement and possibilities that lie ahead. Let us harness our collective knowledge, inspire one another, and make a lasting impact on the world around us.”
In conclusion the Deputy Minister said; “To the students, congratulations on making it into the Huawei Seeds for the Future Programme! I wish you well in this journey, it’s a great opportunity for you to showcase your talent and skills and build a legacy.”