Ryan Ding, Global President Huawei Enterprise Business Group, speaking from Shenzhen, China.

JOHANESBURG– HUAWEI’S flagship Eco Connect 2022 event, which took place last week at the Sandton Convention Centre, has underlined South Africa’s digital potential and highlighted the importance of partnerships in forging ahead.

With key speakers from leading ICT companies, government and Huawei itself, the event put the spotlight on South Africa as a leader in digitalization in the continent, thus helping bridge the social and economic divide in the country and with the rest of the world. 

With digitalization playing a key role in the global economy today, extensive investment in innovation and digital skills, as well as the state, enterprise-scale corporations and SMMEs working together in partnerships becomes crucial. 

And Huawei’s Eco Connect 2022 demonstrated that there is an unprecedented commitment to ensuring that the vision for a digitally transformed and inclusive South Africa becomes a reality, with government playing a leading role. 

“Our department is acutely aware of the need for digital transformation in both the private and public sectors,” said Philly Mapulane, Deputy Minister in the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.

He added:  “We in the DCDT subscribe to the vision of being ‘a leader in enabling a connected and digitally transformed South Africa. In our mission, we see the department “leading South Africa’s inclusive digital transformation journey through creating an enabling environment towards a digital society to foster socio-economic growth.’”

Mapulane outlined government’s vision for South Africa to be the number one economy in Africa and the wider developing world across a number of technological fields including mobile connectivity, mobile broadband, cloud, software development, and talent building.

Maoulane said working together with leading tech companies such as Huawei in various initiatives showed why partnerships are crucial to achieving this ambition.

“As the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, we would like to take this opportunity to appreciate and thank Huawei for its continuous partnership and involvement in South Africa over the years,” he said.

Mapulane hailed Huawei for its investments in digital infrastructure and skills development- the Huawei’s Seeds for the Future, ICT Academy Programme, and 4IR talent training initiatives.

The department’s Acting Director-General, Thulisie Manzini, echoed the same sentiments: “The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies acknowledges with much appreciation the partnership we have with Huawei and the contributions made towards digital transformation in the various areas.

“Digital transformation is a massive task that cannot be done by government alone. We rely on our partnerships to ensure that digital transformation reaches every corner of the country and not only reserved for the privileged few.”

Leo Chen, President of Huawei Southern Africa, speaking at Huawei Eco Connect 2022 at the Sandton Convention Centre on Friday.

 Ryan Ding, Global President Huawei Enterprise Business Group, assured guests that these kinds of investments would continue. “Huawei is actively investing in South Africa.” 

Ding said Huawei will “continue to focus on ICT and digital innovation, facilitating digital transformation”.

Leo Chen, President of Huawei Southern Africa, pointed out that this is because the company sees South Africa’s clear potential, particularly within a global context.

“The global digital economy is growing twice as fast as GDP. Africa’s digital economy is also poised to explode,” said Chen.

He added that by 2025, one in six of the world’s internet users will be African and that the South African government plans for the digital economy to make up 50% of GDP by 2025.

“South Africa is well poised to make that transition,” said Chen.

He added that the country’s 85% mobile broadband penetration, growing cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities), and the promising developments taking place in the energy sector pointed to a great digital future.

But realising that potential requires a combination of collaboration and long-term vision, he advised.  “We need to work together, just like we worked together in the past two years,” he said.

Chen was referring to the work Huawei and its partners did through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing connectivity to more than 3 000 schools and 600-plus hospitals.

He also revealed that Huawei Cloud’s third availability zone (AZ) is set to go live later this year– three years ahead of schedule. 

Once live, the AZ will halve cloud latency. “South Africa is an important strategic market for Huawei Cloud,” said Chen.

He also outlined Huawei’s commitment to helping drive South African innovation through initiatives such as its Open Lab, Joint Innovation Center, and POC Lab.

“We want our partnerships to help South African companies build South African solutions,” he said.

Huawei South Africa CEO Spawn Fan also underlined the importance of partnerships to what Huawei has been able to achieve in 24 years of operation in South Africa.

“We’ve supported South African operators to build more than 2800 5G base stations and have more than 1000 registered SMME partners,” he said. “We need to enable local partners and people to get the most advanced technology.”

Some 96% of Huawei South Africa’s sales are also done through partners, a number it wants to increase to 100% in the near future.

To further cement and grow its partnerships, the company is increasing the incentives it offers partners and will increase by 35% its funded hand (FH) in partners.

Huawei Cloud will invest R100 million in 1000 startups over the next three years, Fan announced.

The relationships Huawei has with its customers in both the public and private sectors are paying off too, as confirmed by Ntutule Tshenye, Executive of State Information Technology Agency.

“On 22 June, we launched the first phase of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) innovation center in partnership with Huawei,” said Tshenye.

The innovation center is aimed at fostering ICT talent and growing small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in the sector.

Vumatel CEO Dietlof Mare said Huawei technologies and solutions have been crucial to the company’s ability to connect 1.5-million South African homes with fibre, including the launch of its pre-paid fibre offerings which is crucial to closing the country’s digital divide.

“Huawei was with us from the beginning,” he said. “You need a company with the focus and the skillset and for us that was Huawei.”

Robert Gumede, founder of IT technology firm Gijima technologies, said his company hadn’t lost a single client when partnering with Huawei on projects.

“It is good for business to have a partner like Huawei,” he said. “They are there to walk with you to the clients and put together a superior proposition.” – Zambezi News