At the Global Citizen Festival South Africa 2018, Cisco announced its commitment to training 10 million people worldwide for jobs in the digital economy, including 1 million in Africa over the next five years.
The Chairman and CEO of Cisco, Chuck Robbins gathered with government officials as well as businesses in Johannesburg to share commitment pledges for Global Citizen as well as share initiatives and programmes that aim to address the skills and job deficit in South Africa.
Speaking about Cisco’s commitment Robbins said, “This is an incredibly important initiative for us. We are also looking to build job portals on the backend of our academy programme so that not only do we educate participants and wish them well, but we actually give them the opportunity to work for our partners. We have 650 partners in South Africa who operate with us to input jobs so that we can match the skills of students with the opportunities that exist out there.”
Robins revealed that the aim of businesses is to take a more active role in caring deeply about the issues that exist in the world other than just running businesses. He said, “Historically we have been focused on ensuring that we provide connectivity and education to all parts of the world. We have seen that when you connect people and educate them, you give them an opportunity.”
“As an industry, we have to deal with issues of basic needs because if you don’t deal with those issues then connectivity doesn’t matter. Over the last couple of years, we have shifted our strategy to not only be one of connectivity, education and opportunity but we are moving a step back and ensuring that we are working on issues of basic needs,” added Robbins.
Cisco also announced the winner of the Global Citizen Youth Leadership prize, which went to Wawira Njiru of Kenya. This award recognizes youth leaders between the age of 18 and 30 who have made a measurable impact on one of the UN’s Global Goals, and who inspires others to do the same. This award seeks to recognise ordinary young people doing extraordinary things and includes a $250,000 USD prize. Wawira is the Founder and Executive Director of Food for Education, an organisation that works with vulnerable children in Kenyan public schools to improve their lives by providing subsidised, nutritious school lunches. In the next 3 years, she aims to increase the number of school lunches from the current 2000 to 20,000 a day in year 1; 50,000 a day in year 2 and 100,000 a day in year 3.
Initiatives in South Africa
In the 21 years of the Network Academy programme, Cisco has educated over 60 000 students in South Africa of which 31 per cent have been female.
Robbins added that: “In the technology industry, we have to ensure that we stepping up, and make sure that we are bringing education not only in very advanced areas, but giving people opportunity. People who have been displaced due to technology. We need to provide platforms for them to be educated and placed in other areas of the workforce.”
The Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams who was also in attendance revealed that the department launched the e-skills summit in 2012 in a bid to build a digital society.
Ndabeni-Abrahams noted that: “As everybody talks about the greatness that technology can offer, we want to make sure that we locate the person at the centre. So, if we were to put the people in the centre we have to make sure that we realise the value of these technologies. This will not only make people the consumers of technology, but it will teach them how to change their lives.”
After the launch of the Ikamva e-skills Institute, there were some hiccups, revealed the Minister, but the government returned in 2017 and they kept in contact with the industry.
“Through the budget vote last year we declared that we will be building a capable Fourth Industrial Revolution arm. For us to do that we had to make sure that people are at the centre in terms of the skills. We made a major commitment to training about 1 million people in South Africa, said Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.”
The department also established the 4IR skills forum which brings together all stakeholders that are involved in skilling. These industries, large and small, can come together and find information, assistance or services related to Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation.
In a bid to ensure that the government is also digitized, the department launched the government e-strategy which resulted in the launch of the first government cloud with SITA.
SITA’s vision was to establish a government private cloud, defined as “an ecosystem of different clouds”, for exclusive access by government departments – owned by the government and operated and managed by SITA.
The SITA’s cloud computing programme created a multi-year modernisation roadmap and gave rise to the government private cloud ecosystem, a connected and fully orchestrated cloud computing platform. Also known as the cloud foundation infrastructure, it allows the management of cloud resources and workload, irrespective of their location in the ecosystem.
“The government appreciates that we cannot do it alone as government, we believe that working together we can do more. We want South Africa to be a major participant in the global world when comes to innovations, said the Minister.”
“The opportunity is now and the only way we can realize this opportunity that exists all around the world and South Africa is for us to drive deep partnerships together and that means partnerships between other major tech companies with government and other businesses. That is the only way we are going to achieve what’s possible,” concluded Robbins.