The second batch of eight Rwandan university students will this week head to China to learn the state-of-the-art technology, do an internship and possibly get employed at Huawei – a tech giant, under the Seeds for the future program.
The ‘Seeds for Future’, is a Huawei’s corporate social responsibilities initiative in collaboration with Rwanda, and was launched in 2017 with the aim of cultivating more ICT talents through providing to Rwandan students internship and job opportunities at Huawei Headquarters in China.
This year’s group was flagged off on Monday by the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, alongside Chinese Commercial Counselor, Wang Jianxin, and Huawei Country Director Yang Shengwan.
The eight students were selected out of 37 applicants from five universities after submitting ICT various projects in thematic areas of: Health, e-commerce, Transport, and education – that can positively impact the lives of Rwandans.
Huawei Country Manager Yang Shengwan said that the students shall be going to China on 15th November where they will spend two weeks in Beijing and Shenzhen.
“They will have an intensive training which involves learning the Chinese culture, language, calligraphy learning and the technological hands-on training in the latest trends such as 5G, Artificial intelligence, cloud computing among others,” Shengwan said.
The ministry of education representative, Leon Mwumvaneza asked the students not to take the training opportunity for a tourist experience in China but rather use the chance as a valuable asset to optimize their time and exposure to new windows for the betterment of the country.
“Don’t go to China and come back home with stories about skyscrapers but come back with skills and ideas that can change our country. To ensure this happened, we will hold a debriefing to find out how much you have acquired in skills,” Mwumvanezan said.
The Huawei internship will open the students to opportunities of meeting with other interns from 67 countries; meet with Huawei technology gurus at some of the 21 research centres in which $5billion is invested each year, interact with some of the 188,000 Huawei employees who spend sleepless nights at work.
This means that it is now up to the students to use the best of their minds, hearts and work in teams to be able to come back with something in the fields of Information Technology (IT) that can be replicated in Rwanda as the country has positioned itself to become an ICT Hub in the region.
Though chances of this happening remain uncertain or guaranteed, the first group that went to China in 2018 says that there is still a long way to go in materializing some of the projects and skills learned.
This year’s selection had the Kigali Independent University (ULK), University of Rwanda, Institute of Applied Sciences INES-Ruhengeri, University of Lay Adventists of Kigali (UNILAK) and University of Tourism, Technology and Business Studies (UTB) offer students.
A similar number of students were selected last year but judges said that the number of female applicants remained small even when the country has promoted gender equity and girl education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
“Universities need to support applicants in reviewing their proposal before submission, and also encourage women to apply, because we only had eight (8) female out of 37 applicants and only three girls managed to be selected,” said Judge Lambert Ntagwabira – a Senior Technologist Capacity and Skills Development in the ministry of ICT.
This year’s lucky students are Willy Nsabiyumva, Prosper Iradukunda Karangwa, Innocent Nzimenyera, Honorine Tuyishime; Daniel Ndamukunda, Bonheur Umuhoza, Solange, Umutoni and Regine Ayinkamiye.
One of the lucky females, Solange Umutoni who submitted a project on e-commerce promotion in Rwanda, said that she expects to learn from one of China’s biggest e-platform Ali Baba – where Chinese citizens spend billions in online shopping in just a few a days.
The Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire used the opportunity to remind students that whatever happens to them, they should carry high the Rwandan flag and so be able to multiply – as seeds of IT transformation in Rwanda.
Considering the reality on the ground, Chinese Embassy Commercial Counsellor to Rwanda, Wang Jianxin was hopeful that the potential of Huawei will along the way transform lives of Rwandans since the country has 3000 km of fibre connectivity, 98% of 4G network coverage and high, affordable internet.
With this technology potential, Jianxin said Huawei will continue to expand its support to other countries in technology that changes lives despite the US president’s intentions to taint the image of Huawei.
“To date, Huawei has a capital worth $110 billion, a leader in 5G internet with a third of the world coverage and this is because of a culture of hard work…Our involvement in Rwanda has, since last year, grown to the extent that we are discussing an investment of $30 million in smart education,” Jianxin stated.