Huawei, SA partner on broadband rollout, SMME growth


From left: Africa Analysis MD Andre Wills, Huawei SA CEO Will Meng, communications minister Mondli Gungubele, and Digital Council Africa CEO Juanita Clark. (Photograph by DCDT)

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – HUAWEI South Africa and the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies (DCDT) have partnered to enhance broadband deployment as a foundation for a digital economy and providing digital skills training for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).

The programmes, launched at an official event attended by Minister Mondli Gungubele, form part of a wider cooperation agreement between the two parties that was signed earlier this month.

Africa Analysis and Digital Council Africa are also stakeholders in the broadband pact.

“South Africa has got huge socio-economic potential,” said Gungubele.

“What we want to do is unlock that potential and unleash it and see how powerful this country is,” he added.

The minister said the partnership aims to enhance the human capital development in South Africa while additionally building a skilled SMME sector.

The launch was at the Huawei Innovation Centre.

Will Meng, Huawei South Africa Chief Executive Officer, welcomed the partnership with the government.

“This will equip them to start their digital transformation journey and inspire them to take a digital-first approach to business,” Meng said.

Meanwhile, DCDT and Huawei are cooperating to carry out an SMME Digital Skill Transformation Programme, empowering South African SMMEs with ICT technologies and helping them to continue their development in South Africa’s digital economy.

They have already trained more than 200 trainees from SMMEs.

Meng said given August was Women’s Month, they sought to combine the annual Women in Tech digital skills training for women entrepreneurs and invited women business owners to join this session.

“We hope that they will benefit greatly from the training and start embracing technologies like high-speed fibre or 5G and look into the benefits of Cloud for SMMEs,” he said.

Andre Wills, Managing Director of research firm Africa Analysis, provided insight into what South Africa’s digital future could look like.

“When we speak about where we want South Africa to go, we speak about enabling technologies,” the veteran technology analyst said.

In particular, he added, building up a digital society and economy could unlock powerful social benefits for the country. A good example of this is how women benefit from increased digitisation.

“One of the fascinating aspects coming out of studies in Latin America is how the role of women in employment has increased once you see the deployment of broadband to a household.”

South Africa, he believes, could see similarly significant benefits.

“Women entrepreneurs and women-owned micro businesses traditionally play a critical role in South African society and by extension the economy,” Meng concurred.

“Yet, women-led enterprises in South Africa still make up only 21 percent of the formal SME sector. We believe that as digital infrastructure expands it will improve this picture and that change will be rapid and tangible, so we are excited to partner with the DCDT on this SMME skills training and contribution to that vision for a digital economy.”

Meng said Huawei and the DCDT were optimistic about the future of the country’s digital transformation process.

“Our partnership agreement will greatly assist in ensuring that ICT technology drives the economy forward, taking every citizen with it,” he concluded.

– CAJ News

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