Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana: Huawei Finance Day 2019 CTICC

27 September 2019

Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana Huawei Finance Day 2019 CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa 27 September 2019

Good morning to :
President of Huawei Southern Africa Region, Mr Leo Chen Lei
President of Huawei Sales Financing Dept, Mr Vincent Yang
CEO Huawei South Africa, Mr Spawn Fan Wen
MEC for Provincial Treasury & eGovernment Gauteng Ms. Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko
Honoured guests from the Financial & ICT sectors

Ladies and Gentlemen

I want to start out today, by wishing our freedom fighter and struggle hero, a very happy heavenly birthday Mam Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela Mandela, for yesterday – she would have been 83 years old. In 1976, at the height of the struggle, she uttered the following words : "If you are to free yourselves you must break the chains of oppression yourselves. Only then can we express our dignity, only when we have liberated ourselves can we co-operate with other groups.

Any acceptance of humiliation, indignity or insult is acceptance of inferiority." These were powerful words of the time in an apartheid South Africa and the divide of racial groups was at it’s peak.

I raise this, because 4 decades later, we are faced with a different struggle that once again we have to call on our people to free themselves of the chains of oppression. This time it is the global shift of the 4th industrial revolution, and the impact on jobs and lives.

Today, the banking industry was supposed to go on a mass action strike for the first time in our history, due to the cutting of jobs because of the impact of technological advancements. It is a time in our country that a different struggle faces us, and the arms we have to bear is reskilling and relearning, and financing of the ICT sector.

Welcome to the Huawei global team to this great continent of Africa, and to our beautiful proud country. It was a special day for all Chinese people this week, as you celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. What a momentous day for you, as you trace your own history, and all you have achieved as a nation.

The Chinese people have been warmly welcomed into our country, and you have found ways to thrive and contribute to our economy and specifically our technological growth, & especially Huawei since 1999 when you first came to South Africa.

I stand here today and recognise your contribution to job creation, youth development, and educational programmes in South Africa. You have grown phenomenally over the last 21 years in South Africa reaching a level 3 BBB-EE, a skills transfer programme reaching more than 50 000 people, billions of rands in investment and your significant contribution to the ICT infrastructure in our country. The more you can contribute to the building of infrastructure especially in the rural parts of the country, the more we close the digital divide.

I know that the next 21 years will be even more significant, & I urge you to raise your level of BBB-EE by truly committing to transformation in a very focussed way, in the immediate future, and as your market share grows in SA, I’m sure, so will your contribution grow even more to the skills transfer and skills development, to South Africa’s digital economy. Your HUAWEI Authorized Information and Network Academy, or HAINA as it is known, is something that sets you apart with developing the youth and I urge you to continue with this, and build on your 50 000 number of trained people.

I welcome your commissioning of Africa’s 1st commercial 5G network, which will enable the rapid deployment of 5G networks across the country and the continent.

The mining and manufacturing sector is in the news for job losses, as we speak. In reference to the banking strike that was planned for yesterday, the media used the term “jobs blood-bath”. It’s a jarring term that makes one uneasy, and it should. We should ALL be uneasy about job losses! Job creation and growing of SMME’s, in the 4th industrial revolution is of utmost importance to us as government, so I challenge all corporates in South Africa, especially the ones represented here today, and Huawei themselves, to specifically commit and contribute to job creation for South African citizens, through skills development, and reskilling and upskilling, and capital injection into the ICT sector for growing the digital economy.

The 2019 ICASA report on the state of the ICT sector in South Africa gives us insight into the state of readiness of South Africa for the 4th industrial revolution. I would like to bring your attention to a few things :

  • Total telecommunication investment in 2018 decreased by 1.5%
  • Smartphone penetration in 2018 is at 81.72%
  • National Population coverage for 3G remained stable at 99% in 2018 and National population coverage for 4G/LTE increased from 76.7% in 2017 to 85.7% in 2018
  • The LTE devices subscribers are 12,644,364 at national level. Gauteng has the highest LTE devices seating at 4,304,758 and the lowest is Northern Cape at 220,700 in 2018
  • The postal sector experienced a decline in revenue by 0.1% in 2018, and in 2019 we have seen changes, so we expect this decrease to dip quite radically over the next year or 2, as the world and SA changes. Finding innovative solutions to job creation of these specific people due to revenue losses as they face the impact of technological advancement, is where all businesses focus should be
  • Prepaid revenue mobile data increased by 8.5% whilst both prepaid revenue from mobile voice and messaging decreased by 2.9% and 22.4% in 2018, respectively

While the figures can be seen as dismal in some respects, I believe they are opportunities for growth through innovation and disruption, by focussing on education, relearning and reskilling. It is companies like Huawei that lead globally in innovation and disruption that can contribute to this, and as you discuss your regional financial activities today, I challenge you to make that a priority in the year ahead, for those who thrive here in SA.

I urge you to focus on skills development for both the South African youth and women specifically, and the rural communities, to close the digital divide.

In 2019, we live in challenging times, but we also live in a world filled with promise and opportunities, but only if we overcome our challenges with intention and purpose. I wish you a good day of discussions and deliberations and I look forward to your responses to my requests and challenges to you about creating jobs for South Africans specifically, increasing skills with a focus on youth and women, with equal access and opportunities for all.

I thank you!

Speech date:: 
Wednesday, October 2, 2019