by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has officially opened the Huawei Innovation Centre, a facility anticipated to enable South Africa and the continent leapfrog into the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
The centre in Woodmead, northern of Johannesburg, serves to foster and encourage joint innovation with Huawei’s South African partners, app developers, and small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) in the information and communications technology (ICT) space.
It also showcases Huawei’s latest and most innovative digital technologies and solutions such as 5G, Cloud and AI.
Speaking after the ribbon-cutting ceremony and a tour of the facility, Ramaphosa said both the solutions at the centre and the ICT knowledge on display by Huawei employees were “impressive and encouraging.”
He said that initiatives like the innovation centre were firmly in line with the South African government’s policy of emphasising digital technologies as an economic imperative.
“It is our hope that this Innovation Centre will be a springboard for the launch of new local ICT enterprises that create jobs,” Ramaphosa said.
“We hope it will be a springboard to new business processes that grow our economy and support our national developmental goals.”
Ramaphosa also acknowledged the role of ICT technologies in helping various industries to embark on digital transformation.
“The application of digital technologies to improve production processes spans a broad range of economic sectors from mining to ports to transportation and others”, he said.
Last year, the first 5G coal mine was launched in South Africa through a partnership with Huawei, its carrier and industry partners.
“This centre is a signal of Huawei’s confidence in the South African economy and its potential,” the president said.
He added the government has focused on several structural reforms to stimulate the development of the digital economy.
“The actions we have taken include the auction of the high-demand spectrum that took place last year, which – alongside digital migration – will significantly expand access to broadband and bring down data costs,” Ramaphosa said.
It’s hoped the innovation centre will focus on knowledge and skills transfer, as well as SMME development.
Ramaphosa lauded Huawei’s work in cultivating local digital talent through its LEAP digital talent programme, ICT academies and Tech4All-DigiSchool projects.
Chen Xiaodong, Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, under the framework of South Africa-China cooperation, said the launch of the innovation centre showed the Chinese private business sector and players were ready to stand by South Africa’s side to accelerate the 5G application and jointly embrace the 4IR.
Huawei is headquartered in China.
Leo Chen, President of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa, said the company was encouraged by the South African government’s strong vision for its digital economy.
“South Africa is becoming a role model for the continent, as well as on the global stage, in fields such as 5G deployment and 5G-driven industrial digital transformation,” Chen said.
A number of cabinet members attended the opening of the centre on Thursday.
– CAJ News