HARARE (Xinhua) — Huawei Zimbabwe (Pvt) Limited on Wednesday launched the 2019 Seeds for the Future program under which 10 bright students from some of the country’s universities will travel to China for a hands-on ICT study trip at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen.
Seeds for the Future is Huawei’s corporate social responsibility program under which the company cooperates with schools, universities and colleges to build capacity and enhance technical skills transfer to students.
The intention is to cultivate ICT professionals in the countries where Huawei operates and thus drive the local ICT industry forward.
The 10 students, who will be in China from July 12 to 28, will bring the number of beneficiaries since the program was launched in Zimbabwe in 2016 to 40.
Huawei Zimbabwe managing director Shao Jie said the program offered the students two weeks of cultural and ICT experience in China, starting with a week’s stay in Beijing before moving to the company’s headquarters for another week of hands-on training in the latest ICT technology, including 5G.
“We believe that global leading companies like ourselves partner with universities in skills transfer. In this way we hope that we will enable Zimbabwean universities to provide the skilled workforce that employers need, and that will drive the continued transformation of the country,” Shao said.
Zimbabwe’s First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, who is also the patron of the Zimbabwe Seeds for the Future program, thanked Huawei for the initiative.
She said since the young generation was key in the transformation of the economy, it was therefore important that they be trained in ICTs and human capital development for lasting progress and expansion in the country.
“However, in many of our academic programs there is a gap between the knowledge learnt in the classroom and the skills that are necessary in the real world. Through the Seeds for the Future program, Huawei hopes to resolve these problems,” she said in a speech read on her behalf.
Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Kazembe Kazembe applauded the Seeds for the Future program.
“Huawei Seeds for the Future 2019 program launch is one such momentous initiative that aims to do exactly that: plant seeds for future prosperity by helping to cultivate young talent and build bridges between countries and cultures.
“The ICT talent hunt education program will help young people bring new ideas to the digital economy and make the society fully connected and intelligent,” he said.
He added that the program dovetailed with the country’s ICT policy and innovation drive which aimed to promote a culture of creativity and innovation among Zimbabweans with the aim of creating employment by developing local ICT applications, hardware and related home-grown innovations.
Kazembe urged the departing students to be highly motivated, enthusiastic and ambitious during the tour and bring back home their new found knowledge.
“This is a good opportunity for you to gain enormous experience in the ICTs so that you can innovate better things in the future and come up with new ideas to make this country attain the status of a digital society,” he said.
The program, he added, was of great benefit to the development of ICT talent in the country as it was contributing to the growth and development of the industry.
“Let me also acknowledge that the program will address ICT skills gap which is hampering the growth of a thriving ICT sector. The ministry will support innovators from the Seeds for the Future program by ensuring that they have access to innovation drive funds,” he pledged.
Chinese Economic and Commercial Counselor Chen Ning said Wednesday’s ceremony did not only indicate a commitment to academic cooperation between Zimbabwean universities and Huawei.
“It is also a collaboration between our two nations. Zimbabwe and China enjoy a long-standing friendship spanning over 40 years and the Chinese government is committed to strengthening the cooperation between the two countries, and the long-term, stable and sound growth of China-Zimbabwe relations,” he said.
He said he hoped that the program would also serve as an opportunity for helping young Zimbabweans to learn more about China and reach out to the country and its people, as a tie of friendship joining the two peoples and a bridge promoting the pragmatic cooperation between the two countries.
University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Paul Mapfumo said as academia, they were grateful to Huawei for its involvement and support in human skills development programs.
“Through Seeds for the Future, Huawei has contributed significantly to raising the bar for Information and Communication Technologies human capital development in Zimbabwe,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries of the 2019 program, Rumbidzai Mbobo, said the trip was life changing and would be an eye opener to the team.
She promised that she and her fellow beneficiaries would be good ambassadors for the country.
A 2018 Seeds for the Future alumnus, Tinashe Makuti, said his participation allowed him to view the future and explore it, while he also experienced a culture of endurance, diligence and hope.