Huawei Technologies is ramping up the process of increasing the population of women working in the ICT industry by ensuring more are getting an ICT education for specialized technologies of the future. The program, known as Seeds for the Future, has this year received the support of 14 sub-Saharan Africa governments including Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Mauritius, Madagascar and Malawi among others with the aim of training at least 200 women out of a total of 600 professionals.
Seen as a major milestone, the program is focused on increasing the number of girls participating in emerging technologies such as 5G, cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence to help them get job-ready for the digital economy era amid Africa’s rapid expansion of the sector.
African governments are playing a key role in the program’s success. So far, 25 countries, including South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana, have participated in the training, which has so far to date benefitted more than 1,000 students. In Kenya, Huawei has trained 120 Kenyans in partnership with the ICT Authority since 2014 as part of an overall plan to build a stronger national ICT ecosystem that has better knowledge sharing deepens peoples’ understanding of and interest in ICT.
“The journey towards the attainment of the smart cities in Africa requires a strong partnership between the public and private sector and companies such as Huawei will play a major role in building this capacity from different dimensions”, said Malawi’s President, Lazarus Chakwera.
Mauritius President Prithvirajsing Roopun, added that programs such as Huawei’s are critical in building the requisite national ICT talent team and strengthening youth employment capabilities while Uganda’s Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja acknowledged the importance of introducing cutting-edge technologies and skills training for women.
Despite the growing demand for ICT skills, owing to a population increasingly doing business and communicating virtually, the number of women in this space remains low. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) notes that women only make up 17.5 per cent of the tech workforce globally and hold five per cent of leadership positions. Specific data on Africa is scanty but industry experts believe it mirrors the situation in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries where only 0.5 per cent of girls wish to become ICT professionals, compared to 5 percent of boys at the age of 15.
For industry analysts, sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest growing region in the world and will need sufficient ICT talent to successfully manage this transition to a digital economy. According to the Global Association for Mobile Telecommunications Systems (GAMT)’s Mobile Economy in sub-Saharan Africa 2020 report, ICT technologies remain an important engine that drives countries’ development, and mastering of ICT technologies is the engine’s key.