Huawei launches LEAP program to boost ICT talent  in sub-Saharn Africa  




Huawei launched its LEAP digital skills development program. Announced at its ICT Competition award ceremony in Johannesburg South Africa. LEAPaims to help advance the ICT skills of more than 100,000 students, youth and partners across sub-Saharan Africa within three years.

LEAP, which is an acronym for Leadership, Employability, Advancement and Possibility, is aimed at fostering strong digital leadership and a skilled ICT workforce, building a digital talent pool, and promoting digital literacy among citizens. It includes a wide range of activities spanning from ICT training and certification courses, government digital capacity building and ICT skills competitions.

(TOP: From left – Prof. Paul Wainaina, VC, Kenyatta University and winning students Stephen Katona, Ashtone Onyango, Catherine Wanja, and their Lecturer Michael Munyao).

 Launching the LEAP program, Huawei Southern Africa President, Leo Chen stressed the importance of ICT skills transfer and talent development and underlined Huawei’s consistent emphasis on it.

 “Digitization is deeply rooted in people. Because we digitize for people and by people. When roots are deep, there is no need to fear the wind,” he said.

“Through the program, we strive to cultivate more youth leaders in ICT, who can explore more possibilities for themselves, their families, community and ultimately their nations.”

Over the past two decades, Huawei has helped advance the ICT skills of more than 80 000 people across the region. In doing so, it has helped increase youth employability and bridge the gender gap in the ICT industry.

Huawei itself is an employer of choice in the region. Its subsidiaries in 9 sub-Saharan African countries earned the Top Employer seal in 2021.

Speaking at the ceremony, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, South African Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, said: “It takes you, as the LEAP, Seeds For the Future and Huawei ICT Academy Program participants to leapfrog us into the future. Covid 19 took us into the digital era, but we should not need a pandemic to do this for us in the future, we need to be intentional to leapfrog our countries. We need innovation, we need to support local innovators, and we need to promote our platforms throughout the continent to reach scale and develop our economies. We are only bigger when our market is bigger, and we must walk together.”

Other speakers included Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Tanzania, Prof Eliamani Sadoyeka, Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo, Ugandan State Minister for Higher Education of Ministry of Education and Sports.

The Covid19 pandemic has spurred digital adoption across Africa. This increases the demand for more digital skills and talent. According to a World Bank, study on Digital Skills in Sub-Saharan Africa, over 230 million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030.

That makes programs like LEAP even more critical. The Huawei ICT Competition is one of the important components of Huawei’s talent development efforts.

More than 15,000 students from over 200 universities and colleges in sub-Saharan Africa participated in the 2021-2022 Huawei ICT Competition. Of the 48 competing teams, Nigerian and Kenyan teams won the first Grand Prize in the Network, Cloud and Innovation Regional Final. Other Teams from Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania claimed the 1st and 2nd Prize Award.

“Programs such as the Huawei ICT Competition are helping the country make considerable strides towards establishing a more innovation-driven economy,” noted Kenyatta University VC Prof. Paul Wainaina. He further added that by supporting university students we are not only supporting the government achieve its Vision 2030 but also building the capacity among youth to complement academia in to steer the country’s talent in the right direction.”

The winning teams in Innovation Track and Cloud Track were from Kenyatta University. Machakos University also qualified for the Global Final. Total 3 teams from Kenya have qualified for the Global final to be held in May 2022. Kenyatta University was also awarded as the Best Performing University in Huawei ICT Competition 2021-2022.

Prof. Wainaina said of the winning team: “We are extremely proud of our student’s achievement and the fact that we have given them all the tools and conducive environment to be creative and explore their full potential. Our students have used their acquired skills to produce an Intelligent Pneumonia Detention system in early childhood and have now taken their ICT skills to the next level thanks to Huawei.”

“Huawei ICT Competition has provided students like me with a network of industry trainers, instructors, and learning tools, allowing us to obtain a competitive advantage and engage with other students on a global stage, This is crucial for students as it not only helps them enhance their abilities but also increases their job market competitiveness.” – said Ashtone Onyango a student from Kenyatta University pursuing Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. Ashtone was the team leader for the Kenyan Team which won the Grand Prize at the Innovation Competition.

Other awards 2021 Huawei Global Tech4Good Competition which was awarded to South Africa for designing an intrusion detection system that uses Huawei wireless and Huawei cloud technologies to curb rhino poaching was honored with a Top Performance Prize.

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