Huawei Technologies is increasing its efforts to promote women working in the ICT industry through education of future specialized technologies in a program dubbed Seeds for the future. The program has this year received the support of 14 Sub-Saharan Africa governments including Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Mauritius, Madagascar and Malawi. This is with the aim of training at least 200 women out of a total of 600 professionals.

The program is also focused on increasing the number of girls participating in emerging technologies, with the support of African governments. This includes 5G, cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence to help them get job-ready for the digital economy era amid Africa’s rapid expansion of the sector.

So far, 25 African countries including Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana, have participated in the training, which has benefitted more than 1,000 students. In Kenya, Huawei has trained 120 Kenyans in partnership with the ICT Authority since 2014 as part of an overall plan to build a stronger national ICT ecosystem that has better knowledge sharing deepens peoples’ understanding of and interest in ICT.

Despite the growing demand for ICT skills, the number of women in the ICT space remains low. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) notes that women only make up 17.5% of the tech workforce globally and hold 8% of leadership positions. Specific data on Africa is scanty but industry experts believe it mirrors the situation in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries where only 0.5% of girls wish to become ICT professionals, compared to 5% of boys at the age of 15.

For industry analysts, sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest growing region in the world and will need sufficient ICT talent to successfully manage this transition to a digital economy. According to the Global Association for Mobile Telecommunications Systems (GAMT)’s Mobile Economy in Sub-Saharan Africa 2020 report, ICT technologies remain an important engine that drives countries’ development, and mastering of ICT technologies is the engine’s key.