In a momentous occasion, President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a speech at the official launch of the Huawei Innovation Centre in Woodmead. The President highlighted the significance of digital infrastructure and information technology in driving economic growth and enhancing government service delivery. The event was attended by esteemed guests, including His Excellency Ambassador Chen of the People’s Republic of China and Huawei executives.
President Ramaphosa expressed his admiration for the collaboration hub that brings together Huawei’s various business units, local partners, app developers, and ICT-focused SMMEs. He commended Huawei’s confidence in the South African economy and recognized the digital technology and business services sectors as crucial pillars of the country’s investment strategy.
The President emphasized the role of digital innovation in propelling a nation’s development, stating that new technologies like AI, Big Data, and machine learning foster economic growth, job creation, and self-employment opportunities. Moreover, he highlighted the immense potential for digital technologies to enhance production processes across sectors such as mining, transportation, and ports.
President Ramaphosa praised the progress made in the ICT sector, citing the 2023 State of the ICT Sector in South Africa report by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa. The sector’s revenue has grown by approximately R25.5 billion over a five-year period, making it an attractive industry for investment with substantial growth potential. The President called for a corresponding increase in job creation to accompany the sector’s revenue growth.
In his remarks, President Ramaphosa acknowledged Huawei’s efforts in cultivating local digital talent through initiatives like the LEAP program, ICT academies, and DigiSchool projects. He also expressed appreciation for Huawei’s plans to invest significantly in data centers and cybersecurity industries in Africa. By embracing cutting-edge technologies pioneered by Huawei and similar companies, South Africa and the continent can position themselves at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Following President Ramaphosa’s speech, Ms. Makgotso Lebajoa, the CEO of Imperial Key Africa, added her insights on the need to bridge the digital divide and empower women in the digital economy. She emphasized the importance of equipping and upskilling the girl child with IT skills to ensure that women play a significant role in accelerating the digital economy. Ms. Lebajoa stressed that women’s participation and leadership in the ICT sector are vital for achieving inclusive and sustainable growth.
Ms. Lebajoa’s comments shed light on an essential aspect of the digital transformation journey—ensuring equal opportunities for women and girls to access education and acquire digital skills. By promoting gender equality in the digital sphere, South Africa can harness the full potential of its human capital, driving innovation and economic prosperity.
The launch of the Huawei Innovation Centre and the President’s remarks underscore the government’s commitment to leveraging digital technologies for economic growth and development. With strategic investments, collaborative partnerships, and a focus on skills development, South Africa is poised to unlock the immense possibilities of the digital age.
As the Innovation Centre begins its operations, all eyes will be on the transformative projects and innovative enterprises it will nurture, fostering job creation, economic expansion, and the realization of national developmental goals.