By Duncan Mlanjira
The Seed for the Future, a programme introduced by Chinese mobile phone service provider Huawei Technologies Limited in which it sends Malawian youths to China, is a life changing encounter which introduces the students to the world class information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and hands on experience and skills.
This was said by Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology, Mark Botomani at the farewell ceremony of the 4th cohort of the beneficiaries of the Seed for the Future flagship program which was introduced in 2015.
The 4th cohort this time has seeing 10 Malawian ICT students who were chosen from various public universities, including NACIT, every year to go to China where they interact with colleagues from there and other third world countries.
The Seed for the Future program is carried out as a human resource development partnership between Huawei and the Malawi Government.
They will start with Beijing City and will later proceed to Shenzhen, the headquarters of the world’s leading ICT giant, Huawei Technologies Limited.
Quoting the Chinese proverb that says: ‘Do not forget those who dug the well when you drink from it’, Botomani thanks Huawei, saying the program is in tandem with the State President, His Excellency Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika’s vision for the youth in this country.
“The President’s flagship of Community Colleges Program takes cognizant of the fact that ICT drives the global economy today, hence his insistence that ICT modules be included in the Community Colleges syllabus.
“In addition, government made sure that the country must also improve internet accessibility, quality and affordability when it rolled out the US $23 million National Fiber Backbone Project Phase 1 which was implemented by Huawei.
“I am sure that the second phase is starting soon. As I speak, Malawi is no longer using analogue systems as Government took a deliberate policy to migrate from analogue to digital ICT solutions through a World Bank-funded program implemented from the National ICT master plan.
“The Malawi Digital Broadcasting Network Limited (MDBNL) [otherwise known as ‘Kiliye Kiliye’] is a product of the digital migration program established to ensure high quality TV picture and radio signals.
“This underscores the fact that as a nation we have made significant strides in as far as the ICT development is concerned.
“However, as I said in my key note address at the International ICT Expo in August this year, it is my wish that what our friends in Rwanda are doing, we should also be able to do it here.
“Our dear brothers in Rwanda have developed their ICT base to the extent of manufacturing their own smart phones, a thing as a Minister responsible for ICT development, I want to see happening here in Malawi.
“I know very soon we will have a company that will establish itself here to manufacture smart gadgets.
“As Government we welcome such Foreign Direct Investment initiatives because apart from boosting our economy and increasing forex, they also provide employment for our youth.”
The Minister continued to say that Malawi government attaches great importance to ICT development as a catalyst for the national economic development more so where such initiatives target the youth.
“This is the reason why I had to make sure that I personally avail myself at this important function to encourage the team we are sending to China today.
“My message is: Go yee into the ICT World and bring back the technological skills! Malawi is looking up to you young people to do what we, your parents, have not done or perfect what we had already started.”
He praised Huawei, saying it has proved to be an all-weather friend.
“Apart from the Seeds for the Future Program whose beneficiaries we are sending off today, you have been there in hard times especially when natural disasters hit. Early this year, you donated relief items for displaced flood survivors.
“In 2016, Huawei were the official sponsor of the second Malawi Investment Forum (MIF) another brain child of State President His Excellency Arthur Peter Mutharika. Huawei also participated during the launch of the Buy Malawi Strategy.
“Huawei sponsored the 2017 University of Malawi Engineering Symposium and for the past three consecutive years they have been sponsoring the MBC’s innovations Awards.
“Just this year, Huawei sponsored the ICT Association of Malawi (ICTAM) during the international ICT expo.
“All this is possible because of cordial diplomatic relationship that exists between the Malawi government and the People’s Republic of China.
“I, therefore, would like to commend the People’s Republic of China for all the technical and financial support rendered since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 2008.
“At this function we feel greatly honored that the Chinese government is ably represented by the Consular as the Ambassador is on holiday in China.
“Let me reiterate Malawi Government’s commitment in the development of the ICT industry in Malawi. The evidence is there for everyone to see.
“Malawi government has a National ICT Policy guiding the direction of ICT development. The policy supports the national goal of wealth creation and poverty reduction through economic development.
“We also have the ITC4D another blue print focusing on eight thematic areas of Strategy, ICT Leadership, ICT in Human Capital Development, ICT Governance, ICT Growth, ICT Infrastructure Development and Community Access to ICT.
“Let me invite other players in the ICT industry to join government in the development of ICT industry in Malawi,” Botomani said.