Huawei Expands Digital Skills Training in Sub-Saharan Africa

Chinese technology giant Huawei has announced an ambitious plan to train an additional 150,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa over the next three years, significantly expanding its digital skills programme in the region.

The announcement, made at the LEAP Summit 2024 in Shanghai, builds upon the company’s initial goal of equipping 100,000 individuals with digital skills by 2025. Huawei reports having already surpassed this target by 120%, training over 120,000 people in just 26 months.

This accelerated push comes as the demand for digital skills in Africa continues to surge. The International Financial Corporation estimates that by 2030, over 230 million jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa will require digital competencies.

“There is a pressing need to equip talent in Sub-Saharan Africa with digital skills,” said Jeff Wang, Senior Vice President and President of Public Affairs and Communications at Huawei. “After more than two years of development, we are glad to see that so many people have benefited from it.”

The LEAP programme, which stands for Leadership, Employability, Advancement and Possibility, is a joint effort between Huawei and the African Telecommunications Union (ATU). It encompasses a range of activities, including ICT training, certification courses, and digital capacity building for governments.

John OMO, Secretary General of the ATU, emphasised the human-centric approach of the initiative. “Digital skills development and access to ICT is not about ICT, it’s about people. It’s about empowering people to participate sufficiently in the digital economy,” he said.

The programme has garnered support from various African governments. Dr. Tatenda Annastacia Mavetera, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, praised the collaborative nature of the summit, stating that partnerships between governments, industries, and civil society are crucial to “unlock the full potential of ICT for the benefit of humanity.”

China’s involvement in African digital development was highlighted by Minister Counselor He Hongyan from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She noted that the LEAP programme aligns with the China-Africa Cooperation 2035 vision, helping to “build a pool of digital talent, boost its digital economy, bridge the digital divide and boost and drive inclusive development.”

As part of the expanded initiative, Huawei introduced a new Digital Intelligence Talent Development Program, offering free certificate courses and exam vouchers for the Huawei ICT Academy. The company also launched a Digital Badge programme, allowing students and teachers to showcase their certifications on social media platforms, potentially unlocking future employment opportunities.

While Huawei’s efforts have been welcomed by many, some observers caution that such large-scale training programmes must be carefully aligned with local job markets to ensure sustainable employment outcomes. Additionally, questions remain about the long-term impact on Africa’s indigenous tech industry and its reliance on foreign expertise.

Nevertheless, as Africa continues its rapid digital transformation, initiatives like Huawei’s LEAP programme are likely to play a crucial role in shaping the continent’s future workforce. The success of these efforts may well determine Africa’s ability to compete in the global digital economy in the years to come.

Read next: Bridging the Cyber Skills Gap to Boost Prospects for Underprivileged Youth



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