President Cyril Ramaphosa with Huawei ICT Competition winners Lutho Sigidi, Nqubeko Shabalala and Terry-Anne Fredericks, Huawei Network Engineer.

THE South African team which took a top spot in the 2022-2023 Huawei Global ICT Competition held in Shenzhen, China recently are riding high following their success.

Two University of KwaZulu Natal graduates Lutho Sigidi and Nqubeko Asanda Shabalala, and University of Johannesburg graduate Terry-Anne Fredericks, have all been employed by the ICT giant.

They were recently singled out for praise by President Cyril Ramaphosa when he recently officially opened the Huawei Innovation Centre, which showcases thw company’s latest and most innovative digital technologies and solutions such as 5G, Cloud, and AI.

Its purpose is to foster and encourage joint innovation with Huawei’s South African partners, app developers, SMMEs, and South African youth such as Sigidi, Fredericks and Shabalala, who are passionate about ICT.

While touring the innovation centre, Ramaphosa met the graduates and had high praise for their achievement at the global ICT competition.

“Also most impressive [were the] winners of the ICT Global Competition who I had the opportunity to greet earlier and I’d like to be photographed with them later, if they’ll allow me,” he said.

“Then it will rub off on me a little bit as well.”

The winning trio have all been employed by Huawei in different roles since they graduated.

Asked how she felt about the affirmation they received from Ramaphosa, Huawei Network Engineer Terry-Anne Fredericks said, “It evoked feelings of excitement, pride, and honor, as it provided me with a unique opportunity to engage with one of the most powerful and influential figures in the country.

“We have been given a chance to showcase our capabilities so that we can build a better life and future not only for ourselves, but for our country as well.”

Nqubeko Shabalala, now a Pre Sales Engineer and Product Manager, said: “When I started the competition I did not, even in my wildest dreams, imagine meeting the President of the Republic of South Africa.

“Being part of such an important launch is also a great step into showcasing the vast ICT technology offerings in a more practical, scenario-based environment.

“This kind of exposure through places like the Innovation Centre, I believe, is exactly what’s needed here in South Africa.”

Team leader Lutho Sigidi has been employed as an IP engineer with Huawei. “I felt honored as a representative of South Africa’s youth, showing the endless capabilities of our talent. I am certain that I represent many young people from around the country and I hope I have motivated and encouraged others,” said Sigidi.

Speaking after the ribbon-cutting ceremony and a tour of the facility, Ramaphosa said initiatives such as the Innovation Centre are firmly in line with government’s policy of emphasising digital technologies as an economic and youth development imperative.

He also expressed admiration for how Huawei integrates youth whose skills it’s helped build through initiatives such at the LEAP programme, its ICT academies, and DigiSchool projects.

Ramaphosa further noted how programmes such as those run by Huawei fall in line with the government’s own youth development initiatives. 

“South Africa has a robust and sophisticated ICT sector with expertise in data centres, cloud computing and storage, and rapidly expanding wireless and fibre infrastructure,” he said.

“It is when we work together with a company such as Huawei that’s cutting edge, that we will be able to have greater capability and greater efficiency.

“I congratulate Huawei for the work it is doing to cultivate local digital talent through its various programmes,” Ramaphosa concluded.

Huawei SA call for entry as ICT Competition 2023-2024 kicks off

As a global event, the Huawei ICT Competition is a platform for university and college students to study and show off their skills in the latest technologies like 5G, AI and Cloud.

Registration for this year’s Huawei ICT Competition is now open and any student with a background in science and ICT can enter and participate through self-study.

About the Huawei ICT Competition

The Huawei ICT Competition is one of the largest ICT events in the world and is aimed at driving the development of ICT talent for industry growth and digital transformation. It is a mark of the importance that is being placed on the sector by role players in the region, as the South African team that made it to the Global Final was one of 19 fielded from Sub Saharan Africa by Huawei. The 76 students together represented the second highest number of participants from a single region after China.