by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – SOUTH Africa must urgently address its information and communications technology (ICT) skills gap or the disparities would have a massive negative impact on the country’s economy.
This is according to the whitepaper launched by global ICT company, Huawei, which also inaugurated its 2022-2023 ICT competition in Johannesburg.
The report compiled in partnership with EY indicates there are currently around 20 000 ICT companies in South Africa, cumulatively contributing 8 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The sector has also achieved consistent growth despite the economic hardships South Africa has faced in recent years and is set to maintain a growth trajectory through to 2025.
Nonetheless, failure to close the country ICT skills gap threatens to derail that growth.
“The ICT sector has shown significant resilience as one of the best performing sectors in South Africa, and globally,” Angelika Goliger, Chief Economist and Sub-Saharan Africa representative for EY’s Geostrategic Business Group, noted.
Goliger said while this was largely driven by the pandemic and a need to move business, education, and other areas of life online, ICT had become an indelible part of every industry in the country, from agriculture to mining and financial services.
“But, the lack of ICT skills in South Africa has put a ceiling on the ICT sector and its potential to drive economic growth,” Goliger added.
The whitepaper urged government, technology companies and the education sector need to collaborate across the ICT ecosystem.
“The gaps and demands of ICT talent supply have been recognised by all stakeholders but now we need to take action,” said Kian Chen, Deputy CEO for Huawei South Africa.
Chen recommended closer collaborations to explore the possibility of more ICT talent development programmes to expose more young people to technology.
Government has acknowledged that more needs to be done to nurture ICT talent and commitment to driving cooperation with academia, Huawei and other stakeholders.
“We must be deliberate in addressing the challenges of digital transformation and our efforts should be aimed at using the available knowledge and digital infrastructure to ensure that we mitigate, rather than exacerbate, existing digital inequities,” said Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation.
Huawei meanwhile launched its 2022-2023 ICT Competition for South Africa.
The global competition is one of the largest ICT events in the world, attracting tens of thousands of entrants.
Aimed at driving the development of ICT talent for industry growth and digital transformation, it is a crucial element of Huawei’s talent ecosystem, which seeks to address the skills shortage in the sector.
“Through Huawei’s ICT Competition, we aim to enhance the knowledge and practical skills of ICT students and create a workforce that meets both current and future needs,” Chen stated.
Qualifying Huawei ICT Academy graduates can begin their application process.
Huawei will work with its university and college partners to encourage student participation.
“We believe that South African students can compete on the global finals stage,” Chen concluded.
– CAJ News