Huawei South Africa has added online training in artificial intelligence (AI) to its portfolio of free training it offers to South African ICT students of higher learning.

This was revealed by Huawei CEO Spawn Fan at the online opening ceremony for the 2020 ‘Seeds for the Future’ training programme to empower young people with globally relevant ICT skills.

Seeds for the Future is Huawei’s global flagship CSR programme, designed to develop skilled, local ICT talent and bridge communication between countries and cultures. In South Africa the programme is run in partnership with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.

Every year, a group of outstanding students are given the chance to study new technologies and experience Chinese culture on a study trip to Beijing and Shenzhen.

This year’s Seeds for the Future went online from 24 August, due to the global Covid 19 pandemic.

The 50 course participants – selected from hundreds of applicants – will follow live-streamed lectures and online course material.

The course includes modules on 5G broadband, cloud computing and the Internet of Things, as well as virtual tours of the Huawei campus in Dongguan, China; interactions with other course participants from around the world and access to Chinese cultural resources.

Huawei South Africa CEO Spawn Fan announced that Huawei had also begun its first free online AI training programme for university and TVET college students in Gauteng and Limpopo. A total of 122 students are attending, and by the end of the course they will be able to design, develop, and innovate AI products and solutions.

“To function in the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution, ICT skills will be indispensable – for organisations, for individuals, and for society,” says Fan.

Li Nan, Charge d’Affairs of the Chinese embassy says initiatives like Seeds for the Future encourage localisation of talent in African countries, and are a great step towards fulfilling aspirations of national development.

“A sustainable supply of ICT professionals is an essential pillar of digital transformation,” he says. “China supports South Africa’s efforts to explore its national development with the digital economy as the core.”

Fan says that the emerging ICT ecosystem is globally integrated, as evidenced by the worldwide move to 5G technology. To address this, Huawei has been running free 5G training courses for ICT students over the past year, which is progressing well, despite the lockdown.