Mobile Cellphone Info has posted a new item, 'Huawei betting on knowledge
transfer, innovation to boost local ICT industry'
With rapid growth in ICT infrastructure technology companies must now focus on
innovation and generation of local content to grow the industry.
China technology company, Huawei, is now betting on nurturing local talent and
inspiring innovation to make maximum impact locally.Huawei regional president
for East and Southern Africa, Li Dafeng, told Nation.co.ke the company has gone
big on staff localization to ensure business continuity and faster growth. "The
Nairobi office has 400 employees with 60 per cent being local stafflocal people
Kenya's business culture which is very key for our success and there is assured
business continuity," said Mr Dafeng. The company which has operated in Kenya
for the past 14 years believes Kenya is a market that cannot be ignored due to
its quick growth in ICT infrastructure and expansion in mobile telephony sector.
Mr Dafeng believes Kenya's quest for industrialisation can be fast-tracked
through increased innovation in ICT, especially mobile applications that have
become the main drivers of business and life globally. He said the Kenyans
should get more innovative to benefit from the current technological revolution,
adding that development of mobile applications has opened limitless
opportunities for the tech-savvy. "One of the key challenges we have faced is
the retraining of fresh university graduates to orient them to the latest and
emerging technologies not taught at the universitiesthe industry needs to work
closely with training institutions to ensure churning out of relevant and
demand-driven skills," he said.
We need to spur innovation in ICT thus we need our youth to be equipped with
marketable skillsHuawei through its global ' telecom seed for the future' has
partnered with Safaricom and three local Universities (Moi, Nairobi, and JKUAT)
to ensure engineering students in Kenya are equipped with modern up to date
skills to meet current need in telecom industry.
The MoU, signed in June 2011 entails agreement on Android Software application
development, Internship/Industrial visit programs, academic curriculum reviews
to meet current industry standards, training at Huawei HQ, universities and
Training Center, offering expert trainers for the universities symposia and
equipment donations. Mr Dafeng said apart from partnering with the private
sector to offer telecommunication solutions, it is working closely with the
Kenyan government to expand ICT infrastructure in the rural areas. Recently the
company partnered with Mobicom to grow its retail outlets for its products
including modems and mobile phones. "Initially, Huawei focus was more on the
telcos, but now we have more business groups such as carriers, enterprise and
consumer. As a change in our business strategy, we have therefore developed a
channel targeting enterprise and consumer. The partnership with Mobicom
symbolizes a milestone of Huawei's new strategy, a shift from business-focused
to customer-oriented and a march into open channels that entail operators,
resellers, and retails, increasing the accessibility of Huawei-branded smart
devices in the mass market," explained Mr Dafeng.
"We are in partnership with the Ministry of Information to impropve coverage of
telco services in the rural areas. We have been deploying network equipment to
ensure end users benefit from the latest mobile broadband trechnologies," said
"Globally Huawei posted $33bn in profits last year emerging as the world number
two telecommunication services providerwe moved our regional headquarter to
Kenya last year since Kenya is becoming an undisputed ICT hub and potential for
growth is high," he said.
Mr Dafeng said Kenya now needs to encourage investors to concentrate more on
local content and mobile apps development for maximum utilization of the
existing Internet broadband. "We must pay much attention to development of apps
and local contenteducation and knowledge transfer is also very important to
ensure a critical mass of skills to sustain the growing ICT industry," he
advised. He said Huawei has so far trained over 4500 students in relevant and
latest technologies and is planning to expand the training programme to cater
for more university graduates. We are also focusing on supporting mobile
application challenges among students to ensure development of apps relevant to
Africa. In order to mediate the software skills gap, the Kenya ICT Board also
recently unveiled Chipuka software certification program in partnership with
local and international universities to ensure companies have an easy and
reliable way to identify skilled software developers in Kenya. Chipuka will be
the first "authentic" examination that would be attuned to the needs of the
industry in general and incorporate a broad selection of professional tools.
A pilot exam will be ready by March 2013; the certification should be fully
operational in Kenya by October 2013.
The move is informed by a study carried out in 2011 by the Kenya ICT Board and
IDC which revealed a software skills gap in Kenya. "Although there is a high
demand for software development in Kenya, few companies source these skills
locally. At least a quarter of companies surveyed said they were not satisfied
with the quality of IT professionals in the local market," partly reads a
statement by the Kenya ICT Board. In a past interview Vision 2030
director-general Mugo Kibati said ICT is a key pillar in the Vision 2030 and
asked universities and software developers to think outside the box. "We cannot
develop to a middle-level economy without innovation," he said. "And that
innovation has to be original which means we must invest more in research and
development." He said innovation backed by research would solve the problem of
commercializing service-oriented solutions. He said projects like Konza City and
Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset) presented markets
for app developers. "As the old generation thinks about property around these
areas, young people should be looking at how they can use technology to service
these areas and create jobs."
Mobile usage has grown tremendously with over 70 per cent of Kenya covered by
mobile networks and over 24 million people hooked to them. This makes mobile
applications very critical in accessing services.
"Mobile phone is considered the computer of Africa and the de facto medium of
communication," said Mr Kibati.
He noted that Kenya is ranked 56 out of 139 countries worldwide in terms of
innovation by the World Competitiveness Report for 2010/11, putting the country
at par with Asian tigers.
"Our problem in Kenya has always been that innovation is not turned into
concrete products for the market soon enough. We need to close the
innovation-implementation gap to increase our overall global competitiveness.
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