Huawei, a globally leading provider of network equipment, cloud technology, and consumer devices, has been operating in Bangladesh for 21 years.
The company has also been closely involved in facilitating digital education and the development of ICT talent in Bangladesh. In doing so, the company aspires to help Bangladesh become an enriched knowledge economy by making optimum use of digital technology and the demographic dividend that the country is enjoying.
Huawei Technologies Bangladesh Limited Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Jerry Wang Shiwu talked to The Business Standard on his thoughts on digital transformation, women empowerment through ICT, and ICT talent development in Bangladesh, and Huawei's contributions to these processes.
Bangladesh is experiencing very fast development in the ICT sector over the years. How do you see this growth and who do you think is playing major roles here?
Jerry Wang Shiwu: Yes, we all can realize the transformation in different ways. For example, the number of internet users has doubled over the last five years and over 94 million people are now registered under mobile financial services. Such numbers can clearly identify the digital inclusion of an individual. On the other hand, a number of ICT-based startups have been established in between. Participants from Bangladesh have even achieved an international championship based on robotics. These are very important factors when we analyze the growth of Bangladesh in ICT.
We should appreciate the vital role of the Government of Bangladesh in driving the digital transformation Companies such as Huawei are also enabling the digital transformation to build a Digital Bangladesh within 2021.
Alignment with the broader vision has played a very important here. In Huawei we have a similar vision, 'Building a fully connected, intelligent Bangladesh' which drives us to work in Bangladesh for Bangladesh.
In the last 21 years, Huawei has been closely working with organizations in the ICT sector, telecom carriers, and local partners to bring the benefits of digitalization to the people of Bangladesh. We participated with our technology and industry witnessed one of the world's fastest transformations from 2G to 3G to 4G networks.
Apart from the companies with the same spirit, we have a large number of young and talented population. They are also playing an important role by enlightening themselves with new ICT technologies and adding value to society.
As you are talking about the role of youth, where do you think their contributions can be highlighted? Is Huawei doing any significant activities involving the youth?
Jerry Wang Shiwu: ICT has become a significant factor of development, having a profound impact on the economic and social life of the youth. Young people are using ICT to perform a growing variety of activities.
Huawei is continuously trying to add greater value to this trend with its diverse activities like campus training, ICT based competitions, etc. Among all of those, Huawei's flagship program called 'Seeds for the Future' can be mentioned which we are conducting here since 2014 in Bangladesh. Besides, Moreover, we have recently collaborated with Bijoy Digital App to provide digital solutions to facilitate distance learning.
What is your expectation on the preparedness of the Bangladeshi youth to accelerate the progress in Bangladesh?
Jerry Wang Shiwu: A large number of competent young talent is needed in the ICT sector to support the rapidly growing technology adoption by the Bangladeshi people which is transforming customer needs and business models, providing new opportunities and challenges. An open and advanced curriculum, opportunities to apply the knowledge, and the hunger of doing something innovative are very important to keep in practice.
Women in Bangladesh have been playing a key role in the digital transformation of Bangladesh. However, more remains to be done in terms of women empowerment. What initiatives is Huawei taking to amplify women's involvement in the digital ecosystem?
Jerry Wang Shiwu: Female employment in Bangladesh has risen significantly. An increasing number of women are taking up decision-making roles – creating more gender equality in the nation. However, we need to work together to bring more good results in this specific area. From Huawei, we tried to ignite the enthusiasm towards ICT among many young women in rural areas who are still struggling to catch up. Under a partnership project with Bangladesh Government (ICT Division), and a telecom operator we launched some buses. Equipped with state of the art hardware and software, the buses can reach women in remote communities. The project has facilitated ICT training for more than 21 thousand girls so far.
Digital infrastructure has enabled the young people to be innovative and create new technologies. Tell us more about Huawei's plans in this regard.
Jerry Wang Shiwu: Huawei firmly believes that equipped with up-to-date ICT knowledge and skills, the youth of Bangladesh will help to sustain the technology-driven economic growth and social transformation of Bangladesh. So, we are emphasizing that part. We are also planning to undertake various new initiatives to continue our contribution to youth empowerment through ICT in Bangladesh. These include building up an ICT Academy with local top engineering universities. We also plan to organize an ICT skills competition in collaboration with the government and universities, which aims to popularize digital skills among the youth. These initiatives will significantly help to enrich the digital ecosystem of the country in the long run.