South African president Cyril Ramaphosa today officially opened the Huawei Innovation Centre in Woodmead, Johannesburg. President Ramaphosa said that facilities like this innovation centre, along with the adoption of a range of cutting-edge technologies being pioneered by companies such as Huawei, will enable South Africa and the wider African continent to leapfrog into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
According to Huawei South Africa, the newly launched Innovation Centre serves to foster and encourage joint innovation with Huawei’s South African partners, app developers, and SMMEs in the ICT space. It also showcases Huawei’s latest and most innovative digital technologies and solutions such as 5G, Cloud, and AI.
(TOP: President Cyril Ramaphosa, flanked by Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong – left-, and Huawei sub-Saharan Africa President, Leo Chen – centre right – and Huawei South Africa CEO, Will Meng Wei – right).
Speaking after the ribbon-cutting ceremony and a tour of the facility, President Ramaphosa said both the solutions at the Innovation Centre and the ICT knowledge on display by Huawei employees were, “impressive and encouraging.”
He said that initiatives like the Innovation Centre are firmly in line with the South African government’s policy of emphasising digital technologies as an economic imperative.
“It is our hope that this Innovation Centre will be a springboard for the launch of new local ICT enterprises that create jobs,” he said. “We hope it will be a springboard to new business processes that grow our economy and support our national developmental goals.”
President Ramaphosa also acknowledged the role of ICT technologies in helping various industries to embark on digital transformation.
“The application of digital technologies to improve production processes spans a broad range of economic sectors from mining to ports to transportation and others”, he said. “Last year, for example, the first 5G coal mine was launched in South Africa through a partnership with Huawei, its carrier and industry partners. This centre is a signal of Huawei’s confidence in the South African economy and its potential.”
The president also said the South African government has focused on several structural reforms to stimulate the development of the digital economy.
“The actions we have taken include the auction of the high-demand spectrum that took place last year, which – alongside digital migration – will significantly expand access to broadband and bring down data costs,” he said.
The president expressed his hope that the Innovation Centre would focus on knowledge and skills transfer, as well as SMME development. He congratulated Huawei’s work in cultivating local digital talent through its LEAP digital talent programme, ICT academies, and Tech4All-DigiSchool projects.
Chinese Ambassador Chen Xiaodong said, under the framework of South Africa-China cooperation, the launching of the Huawei innovation centre in Africa shows that the Chinese private business sector and players are ready to stand by South Africa’s side to accelerate the 5G application and jointly embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Leo Chen, President of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa said in his remarks: “We’ve been encouraged by the South African government’s strong vision for its digital economy. South Africa is becoming a role model for the continent, as well as on the global stage, in fields such as 5G deployment and 5G-driven industrial digital transformation.”
He added that Huawei is proud to be embarking on this digital journey together with the South African government and its business partners. Chen stressed that Huawei is fully committed to contributing more to the country’s ICT infrastructure development and industry digitisation by introducing the latest technologies to South Africa. And Huawei will continuously contribute to training South Africa’s young people so they can participate in—and benefit from—the digital economy.
President Ramaphosa was accompanied by a delegation including, Ms Stella Ndabeni Abrahams, the Minister of Small Business Development; Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, the Minister of Transport; Mr Cassel Mathale, the Deputy Minister of Police; Mr Philly Mapulane, the Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies; Mr Itiseng Morolong, the Deputy Minister in the Presidency; Ms Phindile Baleni, the Director-General and Secretary to Cabinet; Ms Roshene Singh, the Deputy Director General; and Mr Vincent Magwenya, the Spokesperson to the President.