World over, the fourth industrial revolution is gaining momentum and many of its sweeping technological changes are taking effect. Technological innovations arepowering industries such as mining, transport, farming, healthcare systems, education, manufacturing and many more. These developments indicate that at every level, technology has not only become inevitable but also urgent. As global economies become rapidly digitized and their resilience and competitiveness up-scaled, continuous talent development has equally become a critical nexus for sustainability.
For multi-national corporations like Huawei and many more which are seeking to drive broader sustainable connectivity for social and economic progress in their areas of operation, investing in ICT talent cultivation and partnerships has become a hallmark for their global strategy. Huawei recently announced a $1 million 5 year talent program that seeks to accelerate ICT innovations and technological advancement in Zambia. In their MoU with the government, the Chinese Tech giant pledged to train over 5000 local ICT students, under an innovation fund called the Hakainde Hichilema Innovation Fund (HHIF). They also pledged to establish the first ever national Digital Innovation Hub to be stationed in Lusaka, and to further expand Huawei ICT Academy in more Zambian universities and to offer professional certification courses to students and professionals alike.
“There is no doubt that the role of innovation is critical to our agenda as a nation to achieve our desired middle prosperous income status”. President Hakainde Hichilema recently said that during the launch of the Hakainde Hichilema Innovation Fund (HHIF) at State House.
With those words from the head of State, it is clear that we no longer have to toil to put a finger on what we need to do as a nation to accelerate our own development. In fact, we have readily available talents and human capital to drive our own digitalization and innovation agenda. For instance, in October 2021, a Zambian Innovation initiative won International Telecommunications Union Innovation Challenge for commercializing over 30 Start-ups and creating over 100 jobs. The first batch of the HHIF innovators picked across many institutions of higher learning recently show-cased 50 thrilling home grown innovations that may turn the fortunes of many youths if well-nurtured.
For Alexander Mulenga 26 from the Northern Technical College on the Copper belt, having his smart agriculture irrigation system drafted in the HHIF gives him hope to create positive change in the agriculture industry.
“I am very happy that Huawei has taken a step to promote and sponsor ideas and innovations for the economic growth of Zambia and Africa at large. This innovation uses weather data or soil moisture data to determine the irrigation need of the landscape and maximizes the irrigation efficiency by reducing water wastage. My inspiration comes from the effects of climate change which is becoming more apparent to the people of rural areas in farming season. We have seen poor rainfall patterns over the years and climate change is already affecting vulnerable people in villages and agriculture is their livelihood.” Alexander said.
“The rural healthcare system grapples with power challenges and I want to conclude working on something that will alleviate them. My innovation is just as effective as a conventional incubator and through it a lot of lives can be saved. Newly born babies will no longer have to die because of any slight power interruption on the incubator because it can perfectly work using solar energy” Gibson said.
At least almost everywhere there is a digital revolution and developing nations like Zambia equally need to evolve. I am particularly excited to note that the incorporation of technology and promoting technological innovations is part of the lynchpin of Zambia’s current 8th National Development Plan (8NDP) that seeks to transform Zambia into a prosperous middle income nation by 2030. Certainly technological integrations and support for home grown solutions will take us where we want to be as a nation.
Speaking during the launch of the HHIF where 50 students were awarded $1000 each to complete their home grown ICT prototypes and ideas, President Hakainde Hichilema invited other private sector businesses to emulate Huawei in promoting such initiatives.
“We want to invite other private sector business to emulate Huawei. Let’s emulate Huawei” The President said.
Commenting on that recent development, Information Communication Association of Zambia (ICTAZ) president Clement Sinyangwe said the talent development program that Huawei launched with the government is a brilliant initiative that requires support and speedy implementation. Sinyangwe explained that the project prepares Zambia for greater things to come because it targets grassroots so that skills are developed at a tender age.
“The initiative between Huawei and the government is brilliant because it prepares Zambia for a great future. Digital transformation in Zambia requires changing how we run the economy from manual to digital and through the HHIF, students will be well equipped to provide solutions that this digital edge requires” ICTAZ president explained.
Huawei Vice President for Southern Region, Yang Chen said Huawei will continue supporting Zambia in terms of ICT’s and support its realizing of the 8th National Development Plan.Mr. Yang disclosed that a Digital Innovation Hub will also be officially launched by the third quarter of 2023 as part of strategy to accelerate ICT innovations.
Source: Huawei & Ministry of Science and Technology Zambia