Huawei officially opened its upgraded, and expanded East Africa Regional Training Center on 11th June 2021 that has a wide array of the latest innovative equipment in mobile networks, fibre networks, energy solutions and other integrated telecommunications infrastructure. The site is located at AFRALTI and is furnished with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment designed to provide highly practical-orientated training courses. Along with the highly skilled local instructors, it will provide training to telecommunications operators, government ICT officers, network contractors, industry partners and university students.
The training centre was unveiled by the Principal Secretary Ministry of ICT Mr. Jerome Ochieng representing the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of ICT Innovation and Youth Affairs Hon. Joe Mucheru in absentia, alongside Principal Secretary of Ministry of Education Amb. Samuel Nabukwesi, East Africa Director at UNESCO Ms Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Huawei Southern Africa Vice Presidents Mr. Duan Xue Peng and Mr Frank Yang.
Huawei’s East Africa Regional Training Center originally started operations in 2008 and has trained over 7,200 people across the region, contributing significantly to building the ICT ecosystem through talent development. Over the years the Center has relocated and expanded adding more physical network equipment for training, with the latest incarnation even more heavily focused on providing practical experience and skills with multiple base stations, antennas, indoor and outdoor cabinets and equipment rooms, solar and hybrid energy installations, poles for aerial fibre, manholes for underground fibre, and even a mock-up living room for learning how to install home fibre and wi-fi.
During his speech PS. Jerome Ochieng noted that skills gaps across all industries are poised to grow in the 4th Industrial Revolution with the draft Digital Economy Strategy 2021 calling for a renewed focus on developing skills sets and requisite values for all Kenyans to meet the competencies and expertise required for the digital economy. He appreciated Huawei’s support in this respect: “I commend Huawei’s commitment to build and equip this training facility to upskill and reskill our local workforce”.
The ICT sector has been one of the fastest-growing for several years but during the pandemic it has stood out even further. According to the Communications Authority, thanks to rapid growth in 4G base stations, the coverage of 4G now exceeds that of 2G and covers 96.3% of the population, whilst the amount of fibre being built to homes is increasing more than 15% each year. In the next few years, there will continue to be a rapid growth in telecommunications infrastructure across the wider region that will require more engineers, and the introduction of more advanced technologies and techniques that the engineers will need training on.
The rapid growth and rapid changes in technologies requires continual investment in talent development at all levels by those in the public and private sectors. Amb. Simon Nabukwesi, Principal Secretary Ministry of Education emphasized this in remarks: “Talent is the industry’s most important resource and we need to invest in the skills and development of the ICT sector. I would like to commend Huawei for cultivating and nurturing talent which will in turn bridge the gap of existing knowledge and skills in Kenya.” Ms Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta echoed his remarks noting that “As we embrace Tech4All we are opening the space in Africa for the quantum leap we need in all sectors” and highlighting the important role that Huawei, as a global leader in telecommunications solutions, must play in being a leader in talent development and commended them for working with UNESCO to achieve this.
Huawei remains committed to growing the ICT ecosystem in Kenya and has achieved this through partnerships with the government, universities and non-governmental organizations. These programs include but are not limited to Huawei’s flagship Seeds for the Future Program the ICT Academy Program, as well as supporting the government’s Presidential Digital Talent Program, and Ajira Program.
Mr. Mr. Duan Xue Peng , Vice President Huawei Southern Africa stated that Huawei’s invested in the newly launched training centre is just one example of the pledges that will have long-term benefits to Kenya. “At Huawei, we are constantly exploring ways to innovate and build a supportive environment for the growth of the industry. It is critical that we not only develop the best technologies but also develop the best people across the whole industry to install and use those technologies. We plan to utilize it widely to benefit as many people as possible and put Kenya at the forefront of ICT.” he added.
Several of Huawei’s academic partners also joined the launch with Prof. David Mburu, representing the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), speaking: “Through this centre Huawei will empower manpower in the country and the region by providing relevant ICT skills and training necessary in the digital world to enable them to participate fully in economic social and cultural development.”