Charles Yang, pres­i­dent of Huawei Mid­dle East Re­gion, dis­cusses why de­vel­op­ing ICT tal­ent is vi­tal to the suc­cess of the Mid­dle East.

Comms MEA - - Cover Interview Digital Empowerment - By: Charles Yang, pres­i­dent of Huawei Mid­dle East Re­gion

As dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion im­pacts all our lives, the role of cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity is mov­ing to­wards the in­clu­sion of the cre­ation of new dig­i­tal in­no­va­tions with the power to lift the lives of busi­nesses and com­mu­ni­ties alike. This new par­a­digm calls for sup­port in de­vel­op­ing the tal­ent nec­es­sary to driv­ing dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. Hu­man cap­i­tal is as im­por­tant as tech­nol­ogy to driv­ing suc­cess­ful dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, and gov­ern­ments and or­gan­i­sa­tions must make ev­ery ef­fort to achieve fur­ther devel­op­ment in the cre­ation of a com­pre­hen­sive tal­ent ecosys­tem.

Dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion in the Mid­dle East

ICT is vi­tal to the suc­cess of Mid­dle East­ern coun­tries’ long-term eco­nomic goal of be­com­ing glob­ally com­pet­i­tive, knowl­edge-based economies. Huawei aims to sup­port the suc­cess of this vi­sion by un­earthing and nur­tur­ing the re­gion’s finest ICT tal­ent in or­der to de­velop a lo­cal ICT tal­ent ecosys­tem. In line with Huawei’s man­date to sup­port gov­ern­ments’ digi­ti­sa­tion strate­gies, na­tional vi­sions and plans for growth of crit­i­cal in­dus­tries, we de­cided to run a com­pe­ti­tion to foster the devel­op­ment of the next gen­er­a­tion re­spon­si­ble for driv­ing for­ward dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. Ul­ti­mately, the com­pe­ti­tion will help Mid­dle East coun­tries achieve their devel­op­ment goals by cre­at­ing a gen­er­a­tion of stu­dents equipped with the skills they need to lead their coun­tries’ ICT in­dus­try into the fu­ture.

Open­ness and knowl­edge-shar­ing are deeply en­grained in our ethos, and we have de­vel­oped many ini­tia­tives to en­sure our part­ners and cus­tomers have ac­cess to the most ad­vanced ICT ex­per­tise. We are com­mit­ted to con­tribut­ing to the re­gion’s eco­nomic growth by de­vel­op­ing an ICT tal­ent ecosys­tem in the Mid­dle East, and we work with gov­ern­ment author­i­ties, part­ners, and uni­ver­si­ties to iden­tify, sup­port and grow the fu­ture lead­ers of the ICT in­dus­try, as well as pro­mote in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity among the re­gion’s stu­dents.

An in­te­gral part of our ap­proach to this is our ICT Com­pe­ti­tion, which is cur­rently go­ing through its sec­ond it­er­a­tion in the Mid­dle East. The com­pe­ti­tion aims to in­crease the re­gion’s ICT com­pet­i­tive­ness and en­cour­ages the youth to con­trib­ute to the suc­cess of the leadership’s na­tional vi­sion for dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion and eco­nomic growth.

The ICT Com­pe­ti­tion ex­plained

The ICT Com­pe­ti­tion was created to give young peo­ple with a cu­rios­ity for tech­nol­ogy a plat­form to learn and de­velop a cul­ture of for­ward think­ing and in­no­va­tion. It of­fers stu­dents a com­pet­i­tive plat­form across sev­eral stages of na­tional and in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions. The pro­gramme ben­e­fits the stu­dents by act­ing as a bridge be­tween the class­room and the work­place, thus en­hanc­ing their fu­ture em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the ICT sec­tor.

Con­tes­tants are mea­sured on their knowl­edge of cloud com­put­ing, switch­ing, rout­ing, and net­work se­cu­rity. It is a unique op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents to test their abil­i­ties in ICT’s most cut­ting-edge fields, and helps col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties bet­ter un­der­stand en­ter­prises' tal­ent re­quire­ments and op­ti­mise tal­ent devel­op­ment modes ac­cord­ingly. Stu­dents have ac­cess to on­line train­ing and tests and ed­u­ca­tional work­shops ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion, as well as tai­lored tutoring led by univer­sity pro­fes­sors and Huawei ex­perts, to en­sure they have the skills they need to suc­ceed.

Not only do the win­ners of the com­pe­ti­tion re­ceive cer­tifi­cates, tro­phies, and prizes, they also have a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity to travel to China and gain in­sider ac­cess to a top global ICT com­pany. They gain un­ri­valled ex­po­sure to Huawei’s ex­per­tise in telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, en­ter­prise, and con­sumer busi­ness, as well as a price­less cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge ex­change. The most out­stand­ing can­di­dates are given the op­por­tu­nity to se­cure full-time em­ploy­ment at Huawei at the con­clu­sion of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Re­gional im­pact

In its first edi­tion in 2017, a to­tal of 10,285 stu­dents across the Mid­dle East ap­plied for the com­pe­ti­tion, from which 4,113 were se­lected to take part in the pre­lim­i­nary rounds. Thir­teen teams, in­clud­ing 15 women from the Mid­dle

East, qual­i­fied for the fi­nal round in China, where they par­tic­i­pated in many com­pet­i­tive rounds and par­tic­i­pated in tech­ni­cal work­shops un­der the su­per­vi­sion of ICT ex­perts from around the

world. In the end, a team of stu­dents from Le­banon won the first prize.

Huawei had four train­ing part­ners to help pre­pare stu­dents for the rig­or­ous exam. One hun­dred and twenty-one uni­ver­si­ties took part in to­tal, and 65 par­tic­i­pated in the road­show. The ICT Com­pe­ti­tion was made pos­si­ble through the sup­port and col­lab­o­ra­tion of 14 min­istries across the Mid­dle East. In each coun­try, these in­cluded, for ex­am­ple:

• Pak­istan: Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion • Saudi Ara­bia: Tech­ni­cal and Vo­ca­tional Train­ing Cor­po­ra­tion and the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Com­mis­sion

• UAE: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court

• Iraq: Min­istry of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Sci­en­tific Re­search

• Kuwait: Kuwait Di­rect In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion


• Le­banon: Min­istry of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions • Oman: Min­istry of Labour, Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Reg­u­la­tor Author­ity • Jor­dan: Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion

• Bahrain: Min­istry of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Trans­porta­tion, Board of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, Tam­keen Foun­da­tion and Na­tional Skills Devel­op­ment Com­mit­tee

We see the strong gov­ern­ment sup­port and high stu­dent par­tic­i­pa­tion in the ICT Com­pe­ti­tion as ev­i­dence of the ini­tia­tive’s suc­cess, lead­ing us to ex­pand on it for a sec­ond round this year. We are ex­pect­ing as many as 17,170 stu­dents to reg­is­ter, and our road­show will reach nearly dou­ble the num­ber of uni­ver­si­ties – we will visit a to­tal of 112 uni­ver­si­ties in the re­gion to en­cour­age stu­dents to par­tic­i­pate and build up the lo­cal ICT tal­ent ecosys­tem.

Af­ter the con­clu­sion of the 2017 ICT Com­pe­ti­tion, we or­gan­ised a con­fer­ence at our head­quar­ters in Shen­zhen, China, with the par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries’ am­bas­sadors and gov­ern­ment part­ners, aca­demics from dif­fer­ent uni­ver­si­ties, and UNESCO rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The stu­dents and pro­fes­sors’ in­put on how to strengthen the Com­peti-

The Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion is start­ing. The pri­mary en­gine of this new rev­o­lu­tion will be ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, and the fuel for this en­gine will be ICT..”

Charles Yang

tion’s value to their home coun­try was lis­tened to closely, and helped in­form the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the sec­ond ICT Com­pe­ti­tion to take place in the re­gion this year.

The strong en­cour­age­ment we have re­ceived to re­peat the cam­paign demon­strates that stu­dents and ed­u­ca­tional and gov­ern­ment lead­ers see the ICT Com­pe­ti­tion as a valu­able tool to de­velop the re­gion’s ICT tal­ent pool and con­trib­ute to the suc­cess­ful achieve­ment of na­tional eco­nomic and devel­op­ment goals.

Huawei’s role in de­vel­op­ing the Mid­dle East’s ICT tal­ent ecosys­tem

The ICT Com­pe­ti­tion is just one of many ini­tia­tives we have launched to de­velop the Mid­dle East’s ICT tal­ent ecosys­tem. In Saudi Ara­bia, we im­ple­mented a Seeds for the Fu­ture pro­gramme to of­fer train­ing and in­tern­ships to promis­ing stu­dents across the re­gion. We also launched our Fu­ture Lead­ers Pro­gramme this year, an ini­tia­tive which pro­vides Saudi stu­dents with three months of tech­ni­cal train­ing and hands-on prac­tice on ICT projects in or­der to pre­pare them to be­come en­gaged mem­bers of the work­force in line with Saudi Ara­bia’s Vi­sion 2030. Since the start of the pro­gramme in 2016, Huawei has grad­u­ated four batches of stu­dents, for a to­tal of 125 trainees. The re­sults are promis­ing: out of the to­tal grad­u­ates, 97% were hired as of­fi­cial em­ploy­ees at Huawei.

And this is just the start. We have just signed a Me­moran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MoU) with Saudi Ara­bia’s Min­istry of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (MCIT) to pro­vide the king­dom with a va­ri­ety of train­ing pro­grammes over the next three years. The goal is to en­hance the MCIT’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties and as­sist in their ef­forts to build a knowl­edge econ­omy and foster the goals of Vi­sion 2030 and the Na­tional Trans­for­ma­tion Plan 2020. The MoU also es­tab­lishes an agree­ment be­tween Huawei and MCIT to fur­ther de­velop its in­no­va­tion cen­tre in the king­dom to in­clude ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and In­ter­net of Things (IoT) tech­nolo­gies de­signed to sup­port Saudi en­trepreneur­ship.

From 2018 to 2020, an es­ti­mated 15,000 Saudis will un­dergo train­ing from Huawei in skills re­lated to ICT across the board. Two of the pro­grammes, the Fu­ture Lead­ers Pro­gramme and the Aramco NITI Pro­gramme, will end with full-time em­ploy­ment for ev­ery trainee. Huawei will also pro­vide aware­ness pro­grammes to be de­liv­ered through VSIC vis­its as well as its in­no­va­tive and ef­fec­tive ICT Skill Com­pe­ti­tion, which should reach an ad­di­tional 5,000 stu­dents and trainees.

In par­tic­u­lar, the fur­ther joint de­vel­op­ments to Huawei’s ex­ist­ing Cus­tomer So­lu­tion In­te­gra­tion and In­no­va­tion Ex­pe­ri­ence Cen­tre (CSIC) fa­cil­ity will fo­cus on the devel­op­ment and util­i­sa­tion of AI and IoT tech­nolo­gies in en­abling the king­dom’s en­trepreneurs. These in­vest­ments will al­low en­trepreneurs to use these plat­forms to fur­ther pur­sue in­no­va­tion, as well as to train them­selves and their or­gan­i­sa­tions for suc­cess as the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion be­comes more com­pre­hen­sive.

We also or­gan­ised Seeds for the Fu­ture, an ed­u­ca­tional train­ing ini­tia­tive that pro­vides univer­sity stu­dents with the right plat­form to present their in­no­va­tive ICT ideas and projects and to trans­form them into ef­fec­tive prod­ucts and tan­gi­ble re­al­ity. The pro­gram seeks to en­hance the skills of the younger gen­er­a­tion through hands-on train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties un­der the di­rect su­per­vi­sion of the com­pany’s se­nior knowl­edge ex­perts. The par­tic­i­pants are also given the op­por­tu­nity to travel to Shen­zhen to train in Huawei’s lab­o­ra­to­ries, re­search cen­tres and var­i­ous de­part­ments, and gain field ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion man­date

The Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion is start­ing.

The pri­mary en­gine of this new rev­o­lu­tion will be ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, and the fuel for this en­gine will be ICT. In or­der to jump on the train of dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion, all pub­lic and pri­vate stake­hold­ers need to scale up their net­work ca­pa­bil­i­ties and busi­ness mod­els, up­grade their ex­per­tise and de­velop open part­ner­ships to over­come all cur­rent chal­lenges to­wards the goal of build­ing a more sus­tain­able fu­ture for in­di­vid­u­als, com­mu­ni­ties and busi­ness.

As a nat­u­ral evo­lu­tion of our in­vest­ment in

ICT tal­ent, we have pledged US$140 mil­lion in AI tal­ent ed­u­ca­tion. Glob­ally we just launched our AI De­vel­oper En­able­ment Pro­gramme at Huawei Con­nect 2018, and we will im­port the pro­gramme in the Mid­dle East very soon. The pro­gramme will help Huawei col­lab­o­rate with de­vel­op­ers, part­ners, uni­ver­si­ties, and re­search in­sti­tu­tions. We will use the pro­gramme to build a bet­ter devel­op­ment ecosys­tem that can sup­port AI re­sources, plat­forms, courses, and joint so­lu­tions.

Huawei’s mis­sion is to bring dig­i­tal to ev­ery per­son, home, and or­gan­i­sa­tion, for a fully con­nected and in­tel­li­gent world. Vi­tal to our suc­cess is the devel­op­ment of an ecosys­tem of ad­vanced ICT tal­ent. Build­ing a brighter fu­ture de­pends on equip­ping the ris­ing gen­er­a­tion with the skills they need to cre­ate a bet­ter world. The Mid­dle East’s pre­dom­i­nantly young pop­u­la­tion pro­vides a huge op­por­tu­nity to shape the dig­i­tal lead­ers of the fu­ture. We hope that our ini­tia­tives will em­power them to cre­ate a more sus­tain­able, pro­gres­sive, and con­nected so­ci­ety for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

The win­ning team from last year's ICT Com­pe­ti­tion in the Mid­dle East was from Le­banon.

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