Huawei has invested R72-million ($5-million) in its first Innovation and Experience Centre in Africa, bringing the number of such facilities worldwide to seven.
Li Peng, president of Huawei East and Southern Africa region, says this is the beginning of more investment in the region.
“It is widely accepted that and investment in ICT contributes to economic growth and transformation in quality of life,” he says.
“Therefore connectivity is a huge problem that Africa is facing – and there is no single solution and no quick fix. Governments, telecommunications operators and developers must work together to find solutions.”
The top priority is delivering this, Peng says, is to build bid physical infrastructure which will form the platform of innovation going forward. “We hope this centre will contribute to the needed innvotion ithis region.”
For the economy to grow, he adds, it has to encourage investment in ICT. “It is crucial for Africa to grow a skills base to drive a robust, knowledge-based economy,” Peng says.
Huawei works with 160 universities around the word to train students in Huawei certification, the most recent being the Tshwane University of technology.
“Seeds for the Future is Huawei’s flagship CSI project, aiming to promote knowledge transfer and an interest in in the telecommunications industry,” Peng adds. “We encourage countries to build digital communities. To date we have welcomed 10 000 students from 150 universities around the world.”
Huawei invests as much as 10% of its revenue in R&D, including investments into Innovation Centres around the world. There are currently seven, with the goal of operating 10 altogether.
Tian Xuejun, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa, comments that the Innovation Centre is an example of China-South Africa and China-Africa co-operation.
“Today a new round of scientific and technology revolution and industrial revolution is taking shape,” he says. “New technologies like the Internet, big data, IoT, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and virtual reality keep growing.
“As China and Africa move through the crucial phase of our development, we can work together to embrace the opportunities from the science and technology revolutions to unleash greater national development potential and create new benefits for our people.”
The Innovation Centre forms part of a co-operative agreement with the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services for Huawei to train and mentor 1 000 local SMEs in ICT skills over the next five years.
Situated in Sandton, the centre will be instrumental in both the early training and further mentorship of trainees, who will also experience training opportunities at Huawei’s head office campus in Schengen, China.
The co-operative agreement with DTPS revolves around three key areas: capacity building, the joint Innovation centre and talent training.
The centre will serve as an exhibition of Huawei solutions, an open lab for university students, an incubation centre for upcoming ICT enterprises and more.
The Innovation and Experience Centre consists of meeting rooms, training, offices and demonstration areas.
These are being used to showcase the company’s products and solutions across the carrier, enterprise and consumer groups, in a rea-world environment.
The latest technology has been installed in the centre, including 4.5/5G wireless communication technologies; VR, 4K and mobile video; safe city solutions, smart home solutions; mobile money solutions; voice over LTE and voice over WiFi; transmission, Internet of Things (IoT)/NB-IoT; cloud services, data centre solutions; and smartphones together with wearable devices.

Pictured: Cutting the ribbon: Tian Xuejun, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa; Dr Siyabonga Cwele, minister of telecommunications and postal services; and Li Peng, president of Huawei East and Southern Africa region