Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Mondli Gungubele.
Johannesburg– ICT leader Huawei and the South African Department of Communication and Digital Technologies (DCDT) have officially launched partnership programmes aimed at enhancing broadband deployment as a foundation for a digital economy and providing digital skills training for SMMEs.
The programmes were launched at an official event attended by Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Mondli Gungubele.
They additionally form part of a wider cooperation agreement between the two parties that was signed earlier this month, and which will see the company share global best practices for the planning of digital economy policies and technology rollouts, among other things.
Africa Analysis and Digital Council Africa are also stakeholders in the broadband pact.
From left: Africa Analysis MD Andre Wills, Huawei SA CEO Will Meng, communications minister Mondli Gungubele, and Digital Council Africa CEO Juanita Clark. (Photograph by DCDT)
“South Africa has got huge socio-economic potential. What we want to do is unlock that potential and unleash it and see how powerful this country is,” said Gungubele.
“It is a great honour to be here today at the Huawei Innovation Centre to launch the partnership between Huawei and the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies (DCDT).
“The partnership aims to enhance the human capital development in our country while additionally building a skilled SMME sector,” he added.
Said Huawei South Africa CEO Will Meng: “Today we are happy to be kicking off our DCDT partnership agreement in two key areas: broadband deployment as a foundation for a digital economy and digital skills training for SMMEs.
“This will equip them to start their digital transformation journey and inspire them to take a digital-first approach to business.”
When it comes to empowering SMMES, meanwhile, DCDT and Huawei are cooperating to carry out an SMME Digital Skill Transformation Programme, empowering South African SMMEs with ICT technologies and helping them to continue their development in South Africa’s digital economy.
They do so with the understanding that SMMEs are absolutely essential for South Africa’s economic growth and sustainable development.
“We have already trained more than 200 trainees from SMMEs in our partnership with the DCDT, drawing from its database,” said Meng.
“Given that we are in Women’s Month, we sought to combine our annual Women in Tech digital skills training for women entrepreneurs and invited women business owners to join this session.
“We hope that they will benefit greatly from the training and start embracing technologies like high-speed fibre or 5G and look into the benefits of Cloud for SMMEs.”
“SMMEs are fundamental enablers of the digital economy,” said Gungulube.
As an illustration of how important the kind of support provided by the DCDT and Huawei’s partnership is, Andre Wills, Managing Director of research firm Africa Analysis provided insight into what South Africa’s digital future could look like.
“When we speak about where we want South Africa to go, we speak about enabling technologies,” the veteran technology analyst said.
Women-owned SMMEs will benefit from the partnership.
In particular, he added, building up a digital society and economy can unlock powerful social benefits for the country.
A good example of this is how women benefit from increased digitisation.
“One of the fascinating aspects coming out of studies in Latin America is how the role of women in employment has increased once you see the deployment of broadband to a household.”
South Africa, he believes, could see similarly significant benefits.
“Women entrepreneurs and women-owned micro businesses traditionally play a critical role in South African society and by extension the economy,” Meng concurred.
“Yet, women-led enterprises in South Africa still make up only 21% of the formal SME sector.
“We believe that as digital infrastructure expands it will improve this picture and that change will be rapid and tangible, so we are excited to partner with the DCDT on this SMME skills training and contribution to that vision for a digital economy.”
According to Gungulube, the benefits could extend even further.
“I know that, if we work together, those young ladies [participating in the programme] are going to be the leaders of the country,” he said.
“Both Huawei and the DCDT are optimistic about the future of the country’s digital transformation process and our partnership agreement will greatly assist in ensuring that ICT technology drives the economy forward, taking every citizen with it,” Meng concluded.