On 28 June, Huawei announced a new plan to train an additional 150 000 people in sub-Saharan Africa over the next three years.

The plan comes on top of the ICT leader’s initial goal to equip over 100 000 people in the region with digital skills by 2025.

Huawei has already exceeded its initial goal by 120%, 10 months ahead of schedule, training over 120 000 individuals over the past 26 months. Both announcements were made at the LEAP Summit 2024: ICT Talent and Sustainable Development for Sub-Saharan Africa.

LEAP stands for leadership, employability, advancement and possibility. The event, co-hosted by Huawei and the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), is an official partner program of Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2024.

Huawei and ATU gathered over 200 guests for the LEAP Summit 2024. Among them were high ranking ministers, ambassadors and other government officials from many African nations in the Sub-Saharan region.

There is a pressing need to equip talent in Sub-Saharan Africa with digital skills. According to the World Economic Forum, more than 1-billion people around the world need to be upskilled or reskilled by 2030. Furthermore, the International Financial Corporation estimates that over 230-million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030.

In this opening address, Jeff Wang, senior vice-president and president of public affairs and communications at Huawei, outlined the company’s approach to inclusive, systematic and future-oriented talent development. “Huawei launched the LEAP Digital Talent Development Program in Sub-Saharan Africa since 2022. After more than two years of development, we are glad to see that so many people have benefited from it.”

Of LEAP thus far, Hover Gao, president of sub-Saharan Africa at Huawei, sais: “We have made much positive progress in talent development across African countries, but this would not have been possible without the joint efforts of government agencies, academia, and industry.”

In his remarks, John OMO, secretary general of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) reiterated a human-first approach to technology. He said: “Digital skills development and access to ICT is not about ICT, it’s about people. It’s about empowering people to participate sufficiently in the digital economy.”

OMO encouraged the audience to collectively participate in the effort to upskill to give the youth not just a future but also a present in which they can thrive.

Minister counselor He Hongyan, Department of African Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, emphasised the importance of China-African talent cooperation as outlined in the China-Africa Cooperation 2035. She said that LEAP “is helping Africa build a pool of digital talent, boost its digital economy, bridge the digital divide and boost and drive inclusive development.”

Siddharth Chatterjee, the United Nations resident coordinator in China, joined the program remotely via video to highlight the importance of a multilateral approach to addressing the digital skills gap and upskilling of workers.

He said: “We hope these efforts can help people everywhere better harness digital technologies, narrow the skill gap and create a sustained prosperity along with sustainable development, all of which are essential to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs).”

Dr Tatenda Annastacia Mavetera, minister of information communication technology, postal and courier services in Zimbabwe, provided both the local perspective and the pan-African perspective on digital talent cultivation.

She said: “Beyond the impressive ICT talent achievements on display, this summit is a testament to the power of collaboration. It is through partnerships between governments, industries, leaders, academia, and civil society that we are truly able to unlock the full potential of ICT for the benefit of humanity.”

The TECH4ALL Digital Inclusion Initiative is one of the key pillars of Huawei’s Corporate Sustainable Development strategies.

During the summit, Joyce Liu, director of TECH4ALL Digital Inclusion Office at Huawei, shared the progress of TECH4ALL in Sub-Saharan Africa. “We must take a long-term perspective on how education can help shape a more inclusive and sustainable future, building connectivity for schools, improving capabilities for people and supporting STEM content development for digital upskilling and reskilling.”

Huawei and its partners launched a series of activities of digital talent development in sub-Saharan Africa. Steven Fan, the director of Huawei’s training and certification department, released a new Huawei Digital Intelligence Talent Development Program. This initiative includes free Huawei Certificate courses and exam vouchers for the Huawei ICT Academy and outstanding personnel.

Also announced, the Digital Badge program enables students and teachers who have attended Huawei ICT Academy programs to display these certifications on their social media platforms and use them to unlock future employment opportunities.

Huawei launched its Leadership, Employability, Advancement and Possibilities (LEAP) digital skills development program in sub-Saharan Africa in 2022. The program, aims to foster a strong digital leadership and skilled ICT workforce, build a digital talent pool and promote digital literacy among citizens, and includes a wide range of activities from ICT training and certification courses to government digital capacity building and ICT skills competitions.