Huawei Kenya kicked off the seventh cohort of students participating in the global Seeds for the Future program. The flagship program started globally in 2008 and has benefitted almost 200 students in Kenya since 2014. CS ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Joe Mucheru, and Ambassador Zhou Pingjian gave keynote speeches to the students and commended Huawei for the highly relevant content, contribution to developing ICT talent and supporting the development of Kenya’s Digital Economy.
The program aims to develop skilled, local ICT talent and bridge communication between countries and cultures. By sharing ICT expertise and experiences in the global business environment, young people from different countries can learn about advanced technologies in the ICT industry and accumulate ICT expertise and skills through the Seeds for the Future program, contributing to the progress of the global ICT industry.
This year’s program will be held virtually for the first time providing a 5-day intensive training with more than 20 mandatory and elective courses offering 60 participants from around the country training in technology fields, including 5G, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing to empower students to understand the latest technology trends to equip them in today’s job market.
At the launch event, Huawei Kenya CEO Mr Will Meng stated in his opening remarks: “We truly believe that talent is the key to success. It is why we invest so much in supporting Kenyan ICT talent which will not only drive the ICT industry but power every other industry. We hope these students will go on to play a significant role in this wonderful country’s development, and drive forwards the Digital Economy”.
According to the recently released draft Digital Economy Strategy for Kenya, Digital Skills are a critical part of the country’s efforts to grow the digital economy. Across the ICT ecosystem there is an urgent need for large numbers of technical staff who can address the challenges posed by this transformation and help the country take advantage of new technologies. The Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs has worked closely with Huawei for several years to implement the Seeds for the Future program as well as other initiatives related to digital skills.
Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Innovation & Youth Affairs, Joe Mucheru, was a Keynote speaker at the virtual opening ceremony. He noted that during the pandemic: “Our government has made tremendous progress in digitization efforts. Recently the first phase of the National Data Center that is situated at the Konza Technopolis has gone online and already some of our government services and data is being hosted there. We commend Huawei technologies for working non-stop to get this project up and running, even during the pandemic-related disruptions. It is a good example of their continuing contribution towards growing Kenya’s digital economy.”
Finally, the CS emphasized on the importance of Kenya’s youth and Huawei’s role: “When we launched Ajira three years ago we knew that the future of learning and work would be online and we stated that our aim was to create jobs for over 1 million young people. I thank partners such as Huawei who are helping us with Ajira and that are supporting us with other programs…. This program is exactly what we need and I really appreciate Huawei for developing an excellent curriculum.”
The Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, Mr Zhou Pingjian echoed the CS’ comments on the program and the importance of the digital economy: “I’d like to express my warm congratulations to all the participants of this commendable CSR program sponsored by Huawei. China places high importance on the development of digital economy and earnestly promotes international cooperation in this area.”
The Ambassador expressed his desire for more collaboration between Kenya and China: “We look forward to the participation in this Global Initiative [on Data Security, announced last week] of national governments, international organizations and all other stakeholders. We welcome all the countries to step up communication and coordination, build up mutual trust and deepen cooperation with one another and build a community with a shared future in the digital world.”
He concluded by noting that: “China remains committed to enhancing exchanges and cooperation…and working together to narrow the digital divide and promote the building of an information society in Kenya and China.”
21 of the 60 students who qualified for the course were from JKUAT. Professor Victoria Wambui Ngumi, Vice Chancellor, JKUAT, joined the ceremony speaking about her pride in her students and how the program is: “Helping ICT professionals fill the gap between theory and practice and master the required skills”. She said that: “JKUAT has already worked with Huawei for a number of years on training programs. JKUAT is keen and committed to establishing strategic university industry collaboration which are beneficial to our students, staff and the country at large. This is why we signed an MoU with Huawei in September 2018 to become a Huawei ICT Academy and renewed this year in May this year in order to continue the active collaboration we have together. This program is particularly important and relevant during this time when the entire world is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Lotengan Kelvin Esinyen who joined the program in 2018 and since become a full-time wireless engineer at Huawei Kenya had an incredible experience in China. He lauded Huawei for giving him the opportunity of a lifetime: “It was an impressive experience in my life. We were shown all the state-of-the art equipment and we visited Huawei’s laboratories which was priceless”. Sylvia Kipkemoi, a student at JKUAT has been selected from more than 350 applicants to this year’s program and expressed her anticipation for the program to start: “I am elated to be part of this program. Knowing how Huawei is a powerhouse in the telecommunications industry, a chance to be part of their training program is obviously a chance not worth missing. I am excited to delve deep into the content and increase my expertise and knowledge. I expect to be challenged and fascinated by the coursework ahead”.
Seeds for the Future ultimately seeks to develop local ICT talent, enhance knowledge transfer, promote a greater understanding of and interest in the technology sector, and encourage regional participation in Kenya’s growing digital community. Huawei’s longstanding Seeds for the Future program is moving forward this year despite disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic and will support internet costs of the participants in the program, providing participants with a mix of live and recorded content.