Speech delivered by Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister, Dr Siyabonga Cwele at the signing ceremony of the cooperation contract on capacity building, ICT talent training and joint innovation on ICT between DTPS and in Johannesburg on 19 July 2016
Honourable Minister of ICT from Namibia, Tjekero Tweya
H.E Ambassador of China, Mr Tian XHUEJUN,
The CEO of Huawei, Mr LI PENG
Senior Officials from the Department and Huawei
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for joining us at this historic occasion as we continue to consolidate the enduring partnership between our country, South Africa, and the People’s Republic of China. This partnership is led by the Presidents of both countries and their visionary leadership has enabled the developments that have brought us together today. This partnership derives it's soul from the 2014 the historic State Visit by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma to China where he and His Excellency President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China signed a 5-10 Year Strategic Programme on Cooperation between thePeople’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa.
This agreement focuses on various bilateral cooperation including,amongst others, Political Mutual Trust and Strategic Coordination;Mutual Beneficial Economic Cooperation and Trade; People-to-People Exchanges and Cooperation; African Affairs and China-Africa Relations as well as Cooperation in International Affairs and BRICS related issues.
On the 8 June 2015, I and honourable Miao We, the Minister of Industry and Information Technology of the People's Republic of China, in recalling the spirit and objectives of this Strategic Cooperation Agreement, signed the ICT Plan of Action 2015- 2020 in Cape Town.
Today’s developments are a practical way of implementing the Plan in the following areas;
• E-skills professional training,
• Electronics manufacturing and technology transfer,
• SMEs Incubation in ICT, and
• Research and Development in ICT.
We are convinced that a combination of rolling out ICT infrastructure and increasing awareness and usage of technology will help enhancethe role broadband is playing in the Nine-Point Plan to turn around the economy.
Just eight months ago, President Jacob Zuma hosted President Xi Jinping wherein 26 agreements worth R94 billion were signed. Shortly thereafter, South Africa hosted the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. At the conclusion of this summit, President Zuma said; “The Johannesburg Summit has in essence propelled this partnership to that of a Comprehensive Strategic and Cooperative Partnership. In that way we have ensured that we are better able to address the pressing needs of our peoples”.
South Africa and China also share strategic platforms such as BRICS and G77 plus China. Cooperation in the area of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has improved as a result of these partnerships. This is evidenced by the recently established an ICT Working Group within BRICS.
Indeed, the partnership between South Africa and the China is incrementally addressing the pressing needs of our peoples.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, we are here to witness the signing of the cooperation contract on capacity building, ICT talent training and joint innovation on ICT between DTPS and Huawei.
The cooperation on capacity building is aimed at sharing information, expertise, experience and technical assistance among the different structures operating in the field of telecommunications. This is expected to help enhance the department’s strategies to implement our programmes, including the rollout of broadband and lowering the cost to communicate. Another programme that should benefit from this cooperation should be our e-Strategy that will provide a framework of how the country will include the youth, women, people with disabilities and small and medium sized business in the ICT sector.
The ICT talent training component of the agreement is expected to help us promote ICT literacy and awareness in the country. I am pleased that Huawei has committed to providing training opportunities to 1 000 young South Africans over the next five years. The youth will be trained in areas that include;
• telecommunication network security and optimisation,
• telecommunication administration,
• new technology of satellite navigation,
• next generation network construction,
• cloud computing and big data network construction,
This training will take place in China. I urge the South Africans who receive this opportunity to use it wisely. They must view it as a window into the future and must come back and develop ICT solutions that will answer some South African challenges.
Fellow South Africans,
Today, we are also launching a joint innovation centre. I am advised that Huawei has planned 10 innovation centres around the world. This centre in South Africa is the seventh on this programme, following launches in China, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Poland and Brazil. I’m also advised that this centre will create 40 permanent jobs, in addition to the 1 200 people already employed by Huawei in South Africa.
This innovation centre is a R72 million customer experience centre that boasts cutting edge technologies and infrastructure such as 4.5G and 5G wireless communication technologies. It also brings to life the Fourth Industrial Revolution by showcasing the Internet of Things with solutions for smart homes and safe cities. We thank our Chinese partners for this demonstration of their commitment to improving the lives of our peoples.
This centre provides an opportunity for governments on the continent to consider standards that can be set for gadgets that can be used on future mobile networks and for entrepreneurs to spot opportunities to develop gadgets and applications that will run over these networks.
Clearly, the centre is a building block towards the realisation of the country’s localisation and industrialisation programmes.
This innovation centre will help us realise our National Development Plan aspiration of "Developing few world class centres and programmes within both the National System of Innovation and the Higher Education Sector over the next 18 years; Government creating an investment climate that encourages the private sector to compete locally and internationally with innovative products, services and technologies; companies providing internship programmes for experiential learning, specifically in manufacturing and services."
We share these aspirations because we know that innovation is key in making South Africa competitive. It is the principal tool for creating new knowledge, applying knowledge in production processes and disseminating knowledge through teaching and research collaboration. We also share these aspirations because we believe that achieving a competitive and sustainable economy will require a strong and effective system of innovation, science and technology.
President Zuma’s call to use partnerships to address the pressing needs of our peoples resonates with the ideals of our global icon, comrade Nelson Mandela, whose birthday we celebrated yesterday. I call on Huawei and our Chinese partners to join us as we continue to make everyday a Mandela Day by bringing modern communication tools and solutions to the vulnerable members of our society.
Happy Mandela Month.