Last week, 10 local ICT students left for China under a program facilitated by Huawei Technologies. It’s an incubation programme called Seeds For The Future. Basically, an incubation programme is an initiative whereby a company (in this case, Huawei Technologies) offers training and resources for people to ultimately come up with new innovations and even startups. Huawei Technologies is a global company headquartered in China that provides and sells telecoms equipment and consumer electronics. As of May 22nd this year the company was valued at USD8 billion, having 180 000 employees and having realized an annual revenue of USD109 billion last year. Locally Huawei entered the market sometime in 1998.
The Seeds For The Future Initiative
The programme is Huawei Technologies’ global corporate social responsibility (CSR) drive which they kick-started in 2008. The programme is meant to develop, enhance, promote and improve ICT talent, knowledge, interest and regional involvement. Since its inception, it has impacted at least 30 000 students globally from over 350 universities. The programme provides a platform for students to have hands-on experience at Huawei’s cutting-edge labs in China.
It’s in that vein that 10 local ICT students were last week seen off to China for the programme. Locally the programme was started in 2015 and the latest batch of 10 to go is the 4th since it was introduced locally. The students were chosen from various tertiary colleges or universities in the country. In China, they will be taken through rigorous training at the Huawei laboratories.
A Summary Of Professor Amon Murwira’s Remarks
Professor Murwira who is the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development (MHTESTD) spoke during the send-off. He highlighted that the government is forging relevant strategic partnerships to foster development in higher education. He explained that the Seeds For The Future initiative seeks to increase knowledge, development and opportunities bent on accelerating the nation digitalization goals. He pointed out that the initiative provides the necessary training to synch theoretical learning with practical real-life scenarios. This will play a critical role in preparing students for the work environment.
The initiative will provide an experiential experience for the students – as I pointed out earlier that they will be undergoing training at the Huawei Technologies headquarters in China. This will inspire and challenge them especially considering that these are students aiming towards a future in tech.
The minister also gave allusion to the fact that the program started sometime in 2015. The partnership is between MHTESTD and Huawei Technologies. The intended outcomes are 3-tier i.e. capacity building, joint innovation and skills development. The programme has the backing of both governments i.e. China and Zimbabwe.
A Summary Of Kazembe Kazembe’s Remarks
Kazembe Kazembe who is the Minister of Information Communication Technology and Courier Services also spoke during the event. He gave reference to the fact that the programme blends well with Zimbabwe’s digitisation strategy. It’s central to harnessing and equipping ICT professionals who will play significant roles in developing local industries. This will result in employment creation in the long run thus dealing with sky-high levels of unemployment currently prevalent in the country.
A Summary Of Mr Shao Jie’s Remarks
Mr Shao Jie is the Managing Director of Huawei Technologies Zimbabwe who also spoke during the send-off. He indicated that Huawei believes it’s important for global tech titans like them to join hands with tertiary institutions in order to transfer relevant skills.
First off I would like to mention that this initiative is quite noble and relevant. Incubation programmes are very important and are central to innovation and the startups’ culture. A tech hub (i.e. an incubator or incubation programme) called WoeLabs in Togo developed a 3D printer in 2013. The printer was made out electronic waste thus making it the first of its kind in Africa. So this is an example of how fruitful incubation programmes can be. As for Zimbabwe, the Seeds For The Future initiative has so far sent 40 students to China. My concern now is on whether the skills acquired by these students end up benefitting our nation or not. It’s important that there be a follow-up and follow-through once these students return so that what they learn ends up impacting the nation in a big way.
Congratulations to the students who managed to be picked for this programme, all the best! I hope to see tangible fruits coming out of such initiatives because they are crucial for our advancement in tech as a nation.