First Lady, Huawei partnership benefits varsity ICT students First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa greets Mrs Wang Wei, wife to Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, during Huawei Seeds for the future programme in Harare on Monday. - Pictures: John Manzongo.

Tendai Rupapa-Senior Reporter

THIRTY Information Communication Technology (ICT) students from Zimbabwe’s universities have been granted an opportunity to sharpen their skills under the Huawei Seeds for the Future programme of which First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa is the patron.

The “Seeds for the Future” programme is Huawei’s biggest global flagship corporate social responsibility programme which seeks to develop local ICT talent, enhance knowledge transfer, and promote a greater understanding of the telecommunications sector among the youth in the countries the firm operates in.

Huawei, one of the world’s biggest providers of ICT infrastructure and smart devices, launched the first Seeds for the Future program in 2008 to help local ICT professionals and students to fill gaps between theory and practice and master the required skills in the ICT sector.

During yesterday’s event, the Chinese Embassy and Huawei jointly gave a donation to the First Lady’s Angel of Hope Foundation in support of her tremendous philanthropic work.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa receives a donation for her Angel of Hope Foundation from the Chinese Embassy represented by Mrs Wang Wei (wife to Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe) and Huawei Technologies Zimbabwe managing director Mr Chad Wei during Huawei Seeds for the Future programme in Harare on Monday.

Speaking at the launch of the programme for 2022 in the capital yesterday, the First Lady thanked the Chinese Embassy and the Ambassador’s wife Mrs Wang Wei for standing by Zimbabwe through thick and thin.

“I want to thank Mrs Wang and the Chinese embassy for what they have done and they have stood by me since the inception of my foundation in 2018. 

“I received PPEs from Mrs Wang, as ambassador for health in Zimbabwe, from the First Lady of China to the First Lady of Zimbabwe which has helped our country when we were hit by Covid-19 and the Chinese embassy through the ambassador have always been on my side and for Mrs Wang she is now my sister and friend,” she said.

The First Lady said she was delighted to be among people who share her passion for youth empowerment.

“I wish to thank Huawei for this great initiative. Over the last four years that I have been honoured to be part of this very important initiative, I have learnt that Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) infrastructure and networks are vital to the prosperity and competitiveness of countries and industries. Because the young generation are the future of tomorrow, we must invest in training the youth in ICT for the transformation of our economy. 

“However, in many of our programmes in our universities and colleges, there is a gap between the knowledge learned in the classroom and the skills that are necessary in the real world. Through the Seeds for the Future programme, Huawei helps resolve this problem,” she said.

Dr Mnangagwa said she acknowledged with gratitude the great opportunity of technological support and advancement offered by the Huawei Seeds for the Future Programme to talented ICT students from Zimbabwe’s institutions of higher learning.

“The programme will promote in our students a greater understanding of and interest in the ICT sector and provide opportunities to learn and apply the latest technologies in ICT. It will also open their minds to the vast opportunities in ICT that they can seize for economic transformation. 

“I am told that today Huawei will be donating ICT equipment to the University of Zimbabwe and TelOne Centre for Learning for training purposes. On behalf of the two institutions and on my own behalf, I wish to thank Huawei Technologies for this generosity. May the recipients of this equipment put them to good use.

“I also understand the programme involves exposing the participants to Chinese cultural heritage and tailored virtual visits to world-renowned historical sites in China. 

“This cultural exchange programme resonates with the Nhanga/Gota/Ixibha cultural awareness campaign that I am spearheading in Zimbabwe to fight harmful practices endangering social norms and values among youths and to protect the country’s future generation and build a responsible youth. Through such initiatives, I have no doubt that the youth of Zimbabwe will be assured of a very bright and a prosperous future, while also valuing their tradition and culture.”

The First Lady urged the students to cherish the opportunity and take excellent memories and knowledge back to Zimbabwe and contribute to the county’s prosperity.

Mrs Wang said she was delighted to present the donation by the Chinese Embassy to Angel of Hope Foundation and witness the launch of Huawei’s Seeds for the Future Programme. 

“This year, China and Zimbabwe have achieved a bumper harvest of cooperation. Zimbabwe’s new Parliament building and National Pharmaceutical Warehouse built with China’s grants have been completed and awaiting handover. 

“More tangible fruits of China-Zimbabwe cooperation are growing and ripening in the fields of medical and health, agricultural development, trade promotion and digital innovation, etc. I am glad to see the cooperation between our two countries which serves as a boost for the development of Zimbabwe.”

She showered praises on the First Lady for her tireless efforts to initiate farming projects, educative programmes, and life-changing empowerment programmes, which can be best described as stars shining brighter where there is darkness. 

“As the nation’s Health and Child Care Ambassador, you have been traversing the length and breadth of the country addressing poverty, diseases and gender inequality. You have been conducting charity works through the Angle of Hope Foundation which are leaving no place and no one behind, and exceedingly guaranteeing virtuous livelihoods to ordinary Zimbabweans. 

“The Chinese Embassy has always devoted itself to being part of your benevolent advocacy over the years. Our partnership seeks to improve the welfare of the marginalised and disadvantaged people in Zimbabwe. 

“We donated staple food, daily necessities, digital equipment and PPEs to local orphanages and schools, provided tons of detergent-making ingredients to empower women and the girl child. We also supported the initiative of forest restoration and preservation, and awarded scholarships for primary school and university students.

Huawei Seeds for the Future patron, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, Minister of ICT and Courier Services Dr Jenfan Muswere, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Professor Amon Murwira, Mrs Wang Wei and Huawei Technologies Zimbabwe managing director Mr Chad Wei pose for a photograph with the 30 ICT students from Zimbabwean Universities who will benefit from the programme in Harare on Monday.

“Amidst all this, we have been strongly supported by the Chinese community and Chinese enterprises in Zimbabwe. They play a major role in the long-term friendship between our countries. They brought job opportunities, forex earnings, tax revenues and technology transfers to Zimbabwe, and what is more significant is the amity and goodwill they have created. 

“They have been taking social responsibilities and deepening exchanges between us by sponsoring their own programmes such as the ‘Seeds for the Future’, launched by China’s ICT giant, Huawei. Last year, I was here to witness 30 ICT students from Zimbabwe’s top universities getting opportunities to study in China. I heard that they got different courses exploring the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, 5G, and the Internet of Things.”

Mrs Wang said she was pleased to see a growing number of Zimbabwean engineers being afforded the opportunity to see state-of-the-art technology and experience a different culture in China, and wished the Seeds for the Future programme could further advance the high-tech sector of Zimbabwe. 

“Your Excellency, the Embassy is ready to work with you, together with the collective efforts of the Chinese community and Chinese enterprises, to improve the well-being of ordinary Zimbabweans, further cement the traditional friendship between our counties, and inject impetus to the attainment of the goals of the NDS1 and Vision 2030,” she said.

Mr Wei Qingtao, managing director of Huawei Technologies Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd said the programme was all about nurturing youth leadership in the ICT sector. 

“In our 25 years’ operation in Zimbabwe, this has always been our number one priority to promote local empowerment and capacity building, whilst we bring the best technology and solutions to assist Zimbabwe’s glorious and ambitious national development masterplan,” he said.

He said the Zimbabwe Seeds for the Future programme runs in partnership with the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, and Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development. 

“Since the Seeds for the Future programme was launched in Zimbabwe, Huawei, the Ministries and local universities have worked together to provide the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge ICT technologies and Chinese culture for over 80 Zimbabwean undergraduate students. This is an invaluable addition to any CV when looking for a job after graduation,” he said.

This year’s “Seeds for the Future” Programme will be held virtually allowing students to access valuable cutting-edge ICT knowledge developed by Huawei’s Headquarters. 

The programme will offer them a rich experience involving technology classes, leadership classes, Chinese cultural experiences, an international corporate tour, and communication with peers around the world.

This year’s launch will also include an ICT Job Fair exhibition that is designed to promote local Huawei-certified ICT Talent to Huawei partners and offer them the opportunity to advance their careers and further enrich Huawei’s talent ecosystem by cultivating and harnessing the value of ICT talent.

“We believe it is crucial 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 economy. 

“At Huawei, we are committed to strengthening the technical capacity of the youth to deliver national development through technical training and support. However, we realise that technical knowledge for the youths alone without aligning with their culture and values; they should fit in with the national heritage and what the country stands for. You can learn technical skills, but soft skills are more difficult to teach, often requiring a change of mindset and working practice. Through the Angel of Hope Foundation and the Nhanga/Gota/Ixibha cultural awareness campaign, the First Lady is championing the transfer of knowledge on cultural and traditional value systems. I have no doubt that the project will add value to the technical knowledge that Huawei is imparting to youths through its various ICT training initiatives,” he said. 

He congratulated the First Lady and patron of Huawei Seeds for the Future, on her conferment with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) by the University of GD Goenka in India. 

“The recognition is a true reflection of her accomplishment in raising the standards of the youths, marginalised communities and protecting the rights of women and children. Huawei takes this opportunity to wish her well in her philanthropic work,” he said.

Minister of Information Communication Technology and Courier Services Dr Jenfan Muswere said the move was in line with the country’s development strategy.

“When His Excellency launched the National Development Strategy, he identified two critical priorities that are going to transform the entire macro-economic landscape in this country. He identified the digital economy and human capital development and these two are going to be the catalysts that are going to transform the lives of the citizens of this country by ensuring that we leave no place and no one behind.”

Dr Muswere said yesterday’s meeting was testimony to Government’s commitment to ensure that Zimbabwe becomes a digital economy.

The Government, he said, had taken so many strategic major steps to ensure that the digital economy is achieved through connecting and being connected.

The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Professor Amon Murwira said the Huawei Seeds for the future programme was in sync with the Government’s programme on transformative education underpinned by the development and application of new and emerging technologies.

“ICT are pervasive technologies that need a critical mass of scientists, engineers and practitioners. Thus education in all its forms remains the most important means to socio-economic transformation through technology development and deployment for Zimbabwe and the world at large,” he said.

Prof Murwira said the country was in the midst of a significant transformation regarding the way it does business in institutions of higher learning.

“Through Heritage-based Education 5.0 we are focusing on the innovation, research and development for purposes of the production of goods and services to fulfil our people’s needs. Education 5.0 requires educational innovation that redefines career readiness and better prepares graduates for the future. Government places partnerships with all who are willing to be part of our national modernisation and transformation journey. We thank Huawei for being such a reliable partner in the journey of national transformation,” he said.

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