The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, The People’s Republic of China and Huawei have unveiled the first Huawei Innovation and Experience Centre in Africa built and outfitted at a cost of R72 million.
The centre is one of 10 that the Chinese manufacturer is building around the world geared towards giving entrepreneurs, ICT business and government a space to test and fine tune their latest technological innovations. The centre will also serve as a training ground for up and coming ICT professionals.
The centre in Sandton will host 40 full-time employees and over the next five years Huawei plans to train 1 000 people at the centre.
After a stint at the centre, trainees will be trained in China before returning back to South Africa. The Innovation and Experience Centre will serve as a space for these trainees to test out new ideas in diverse fields ranging from game development to 5G communication technologies.
Li Peng, President of Huawei’s Eastern and Southern Africa regions said at the launch of the centre that the centre is more than just a flexing of Huawei’s innovative muscle.
“The centre will serve not only as platform for Huawei to showcase our latest ICT solutions but also a space for ICT business, government and individuals to showcase their latest innovations,” said Peng.
The centre will also serve as a training space for ICT students from the University of Johannesburg, Vaal University of Technology, Tshwane University of Technology and the Durban University of Technology.
A relationship with China, built with brick and mortar
At the opening of the centre, Minister of Siyabonga Cwele from the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and Chinese ambassador, Tian Xuejun signed a Cooperation Contract.
The contract will see China and South Africa collaborating in three newly opened Innovation and Experience centre, increase broadband capacity as well as ICT skills training.
Said Minister Cwele, “Indeed the partnership between SA and China is helping the needs of our people. It [the Cooperation Contract] is expected to enhance Department strategies including the rollout of broadband.”
Ambassador Xuejun said, “The Chinese government always encourages excellent enterprises like Huawei to work closely with South Africa to achieve a win-win result.”