Huawei has awarded bursaries worth R2.76-million to 17 University of Cape Town (UCT) undergraduate and post-grad students as part of its ICT skills development programme in South Africa. The bursary programme was launched in 2020, and this is the 2nd year that UCT students have benefited.
The UCT students, who were awarded the bursaries in a ceremony this week, form part of a wider programme by the technology company which will see it fund 48 students in 2021 from five universities across South Africa – UKZN, UP, Wits, UCT, and UWC – with bursaries worth R7-million.
Daniel Jiang, Human Resources Development, Huawei, congratulated the students on their 2020 academic performance, which was exceptional despite the challenges of the 2020 academic year brought on by the COVID19 pandemic. Their ability to adapt and excel is commendable.
“South Africa has a skills shortage when it comes to ICT,” says Jiang.
“What it doesn’t have is a talent shortage. Unfortunately, the circumstances they grow up in mean that many technology students don’t get to fulfil their potential. We believe that corporates have an important role to play in shifting that paradigm and helping South Africa’s future ICT talent achieve its potential.”
Building skills for the workplace
Beyond the financial support that Huawei’s bursary programme provides to disadvantaged students when it comes to allowing them to meet their academic goals, it seeks to ensure that the students are equipped to thrive in the workforce. This undoubtedly has benefits for Huawei, especially as it gives it a broader pool of candidates to choose from. But according to Jiang, the programme also comes from Hauwei’s belief that it has a bigger role to play.
“As a company, we certainly have strict qualification standards and recruit postgraduates with ICT related majors, particularly those skilled in the IT, IP, network, and automisation fields,” he says.
“By playing a proactive role, however, we can ensure that candidates are equipped to thrive once they enter the workplace with the skills needed and which will serve them well in the future. They also come out of the programme better equipped to serve the technological needs of South Africa and to propel the country forwards.”
Working together to grow South African talent
As Africa’s top-ranked university, UCT also has a proud history of research and innovation. According to Tasneem Salasa from UCT, the Huawei bursary programme aligns with its vision for delivering graduates who can make a tangible difference to their workplaces and society as a whole.
“UCT alumni have gone on to achieve amazing things around the world,” says Talasa . “With the support of Huawei, we’re confident that the bursary recipients will swell those numbers and contribute to South Africa’s growing innovation capabilities.”
Bringing Africa to the world
UCT Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering student Parusha Anand Raidoo, who lives on the border of Rondebosch and Newlands, says that the bursary has afforded her “the opportunity to complete my studies and to develop my career in STEM while exploring new avenues in the ICT environment.”
“Huawei, as a company, is committed to creating a fully connected world by providing information and communication technology,” she adds.
“I think this goal is closely related to my goal of bringing Africa to the world. I view my community in an African context and hope my work can propel Africa forward to a point where it’s full potential may be achieved – bringing Africa to the world and the world to Africa.”
For Wanga Tshikombedze, a fourth-year Mechatronics student, living in Mowbray Cape Town, the bursary is a chance to build on his passion for science and mathematics he built up in high school.
“I found my passion for math and science at school,” he says, “which later on developed my interests in the field of engineering – an environment where science and magic are indistinguishable.”
He too hopes to take Africa’s technological expertise to the world.
“I have a lot of goals for myself and the continent that I want to achieve in this lifetime, having had the path already paved by Elon Musk,” he says. “I believe that I can find a couple of tech companies that can put Africa on Mars. But in order for that to happen, we have to focus on universal connectivity. Genuinely speaking, I think good network coverage should be a human right, just like water.”
“At Huawei, we believe that fostering and applying talent could have a massive impact on how South Africa develops going forward, says Jiang. “We are incredibly proud to play a role in building the country’s skills capacity and fostering a brighter future.”