online platform

A new online platform showcasing South African technology will be launched this week by the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.

The DigiTech portal will list products from South African companies, including SMEs and entrepreneurs, says Mininster of Communications and Digital Technologies Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.

And government will be encouraged to procure from the products and services listed on the portal, she adds, saying we need to take a risk and support our own developers.

Ntshavheni was speaking at yesterday’s launch of the 2021 edition of the Seeds for the Future course, hosted by Huawei, which prepares ICT students for the future of work.

Now in its sixth year, the course aims to inspire local talent, enhance knowledge sharing, promote a greater understanding of and interest in the ICT sector, and encourage participation in the digital community.

In addition to courses on latest technologies of 5G, Cloud, AI and IoT, students are also introduced to Chinese culture and language, which aims to foster a cross cultural understanding. In this year’s curriculum, the focus is on getting students to think about how to use technology to address social and environmental issues under Huawei’s Tech4Good programme.

As well as Ntshavheni, the event was attended by Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong and Huawei SA CEO Spawn Fan along with the 12 Seeds for the Future 2021 candidates.

With the pace of technological advancement having accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, both Huawei and the DCDT felt it’s important to empower tomorrow’s young technology workers to use technology to solve both local and global issues.

Students will also learn problem-solving and leadership skills through teamwork and deepen their personal mission and sense of social responsibility.

“Since the Seeds for the Future initiative was started in 2016, it remains important for our path of bridging the digital divide,” says Ntshavheni. “As we open the Seeds for the Future programme, the technologies we deemed technologies for the future are here with us in full force.

“I hope the students that are the beneficiaries of this initiative appreciate the value of this programme and act like true seeds and will multiply themselves for the benefit of our country, the SADC region, and our continent.”

Fan adds that the technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) can be difficult to understand. “But as long as we keep learning, this will not be a problem.

“We want to encourage and develop a sense of social responsibility and foster innovation in our young people. We want them to think about how to use technology to solve complex global issues, like climate change for example.”

Participants in the Seeds for the Future course, which bridges the gap between academia and the working world, are drawn from a variety of universities, including those in previously disadvantaged areas. It also favours black, female candidates and aims for a minimum 50-50 gender split.

Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong points out that China has used technology to enable an almost fully digital society, driving a new stream of economic growth.

“The world is witnessing a new generation of digital technology which is bringing about fresh change in society and industry,” he says. “During Covid-19 the digital economy had become an important driving force in the global economic recovery.

According to the World Bank, the digital economy accounts for 15% of world GDP, while China’s digital sector accounts for 39% of its GDP.

“We firmly support Huawei in showing social responsibility and engaging in win-win cooperation,” he adds. “China will continue to cooperate with South Africa in advancing development with the digital economy at the core.”

The eight day course started on 15 November and ends on 22 November.

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