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    Achieving My Ambitions with Huawei ICT Academy Programs

Reading guide: Emanuel Lucas Chaula is an ICT industry professional from Tanzania and a part-time instructor at a Huawei ICT Academy. In 2018, while he was a college student, he entered the Huawei ICT Competition, winning first place in the Tanzania National Competition. Having also won first prize in the Southern Africa region, Chaula later entered the Global Final and received an 'Outstanding Performance' award.

I've been fascinated by the latest technologies for as long as I can remember. Ever since that fascination began, I've dreamed of applying them to improve the lives of people in my country.

In Tanzania, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry isn't particularly advanced and there was always a scarcity of opportunities to explore the latest knowledge, and because of this situation many people here have a very limited understanding of ICT. Undeterred by these factors, I worked toward achieving my dream: I applied to the best university in Tanzania — the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) — to study computer science.

I was delighted when I was admitted to the university, but studying computer science there wasn't easy, with limited teaching resources, a dearth of suitable learning facilities, and a lack of high quality devices. And because there aren't many technical ICT vacancies for graduates with little practical experience in Tanzania, it's hard for young people to find satisfactory — or even suitable — jobs after they graduate. Many graduates have to give up their career dreams and work jobs that aren't related to their majors to make a living. If I hadn't participated in the Huawei ICT Competition, I'd probably have been one of them.

Working Toward My Dream: Participating in the Huawei ICT Competition

I vividly remember how curious and excited my classmates and I were back in 2018, when our teacher told us that Huawei was going to hold an ICT competition at our university. We immediately went online to search for more information, and we learned that it's a global ICT skills competition for college and university students. Without hesitation, my classmates and I signed up for a roadshow event that would give more details about Huawei and the competition.

When the day of that event arrived, I learned that Huawei isn't just a smartphone manufacturer: It's a leading global provider of ICT infrastructure and smart devices, while its ICT competition is an event that's centered on exchanging knowledge and ideas as well as competing and is designed to help young people worldwide to develop their ICT skills. The competition's participants gain insight into the ICT industry, learn about emerging theoretical knowledge, and Huawei provides them with opportunities to gain practical experience in using new technologies. The competition had already held three editions, but this was the first edition in Tanzania, and by that year it was estimated about 100,000 students around the world had enrolled.

"100,000 students? This in an incredible opportunity for us, but we don't have  any competitive advantages," I thought. The roadshow teacher then explained that Huawei would organize a series of training activities during the competition, and we soon learned that there are many certification courses resources on the Huawei Talent website: Routing & Switching, Storage, Security, Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), Cloud, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

My classmates and I believed that if we obtained Huawei certification, we'd greatly improve over professional competitiveness. What's more, we knew that those who achieved outstanding results in the competition could earn an internship at Huawei and those who reached the Global Final could even fly to China to compete with other students from all over the world. My friends and I couldn't contain our excitement about these prospects, so we started preparing, determined to enter the Global Final.

In the few months that followed, I enthusiastically explored the wealth of extracurricular learning courses on Huawei's learning website. I was also grateful to Huawei's trainers for providing my university with simulators and lab devices free of charge. As a college student majoring in computer science in a developing country, I was deeply appreciative of how these resources improved our ability to apply our knowledge in practical situations, which eventually helped me finish in first place in Tanzania's National Final.

At the award ceremony, Kassim Majaliwa, the Prime Minister of Tanzania, personally presented me with my award. That moment was unforgettable: Prime Minister Majaliwa encouraged all of us to study hard, strive to become leaders in the domestic ICT industry, and use our knowledge to help our country change and develop. Since that day, I have always kept these words in mind.

My team later entered the Southern Africa Regional Final, winning first prize and qualifying to represent the Southern Africa region in the Global Final. In April 2019, after a flight that lasted more than 10 hours, we finally arrived in China, determined to do our best in the Global Final. Finally, after an intense eight-hour contest, with 49 teams comprised of participants from 61 countries, our team received an 'Outstanding Performance' award. That was greatly encouraging to us; it proved opportunities to demonstrate digital skills on a global platform were now more accessible and that young people in Tanzania now had a pathway to learn more about ICT.

Achieving Ambitions and Enabling Others

Learning Huawei technologies has greatly helped me in my career. Huawei provides multiple technical certifications across the entire industry, and each certification has three levels for its certificates: Huawei Certified ICT Associate (HCIA) for junior associates, Huawei Certified ICT Professional (HCIP) for senior professionals, and Huawei Certified ICT Expert (HCIE) for experts. So I kept studying after the competition and earned several Huawei certificates, including HCIA-Storage, HCIA-Security, and HCIP-Routing and Switching (R&S).

When I graduated, Huawei recommended me a job opportunity as a junior engineer. In this role, I was lucky enough to participate in several large-scale local ICT projects, which enabled me to apply my skills in practical situations and broadened my horizons.

Whenever I've looked at the bigger picture and thought about the status of the digital field in my country, I have always focused on two questions: How can we change Tanzania's status in the ICT field? And how can I apply my strengths to help my fellow Tanzanians to improve their skills?

When I told my Huawei supervisor I'd been thinking about these questions, he suggested I join 'Train the Trainer,' a free program provided by Huawei to teach the teachers about Huawei's technologies and solutions. He reasoned that then I could providing technical training and experience sharing for college students in my spare time. With some encouragement from my colleagues, I took the instructor training course and got a license to train others. So I became a part-time instructor at some ICT Academies in Tanzania, hoping to help more students to acquire knowledge about cutting-edge technologies and gain Huawei certifications.

A combination of industry practice and academic knowledge gives me the perspective I need to deliver training to the best of my abilities. Once again, much like when I signed up for the competition, many students gained access to a wealth of industry resources and a real experimentation environment through Huawei's platform. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also provided continuous remote training and an online simulation environment to encourage students to maintain their enthusiasm to learn in the lead up to the competition. Gratifyingly, all of these efforts paid off. In the 2019–2020 competition, our students also achieved impressive results: first place in Southern Africa and second prize in the Global Final, achievements that exceeded my expectations. As I reflected on these successes, I realized that I wasn't just fulfilling my own dream; I was also helping others to fulfill their dreams.

In October 2020, as a mentor, Chaula led a new team, which won first prize in the Southern Africa Regional Final.

How Huawei ICT Academies Can Support Africa's Digital Aspirations

After five editions, the Huawei ICT Competition has established itself as the largest and most influential ICT skills competition in Africa. Based on my experiences in the competition, I believe it's critical for teachers and students alike to embrace, and keep learning new technologies. Crucially, Huawei ICT Academy provides the foundation needed for continuous growth and development.

Three years ago, the first Huawei ICT Academy was established in Tanzania. Today, we have established partnerships with 18 universities nationwide, and we provide high-quality courses and skills training for nearly 4000 students. Over the past three years, I have witnessed how Huawei has helped to improve knowledge about ICT skills in Tanzanian academia, bridged the gap between theoretical learning and practice, had a profound impact on innovation and application of new technologies, and boosted Tanzania's future digital industry development.

These efforts have also been recognized by Joyce Ndalichako, Tanzania's Minister of Education and Technology. "Students are the future of national development. The Huawei ICT Competition provides a new platform for students in Tanzania," Ndalichako said. "On behalf of the Tanzanian government, I would like to thank Huawei for its dedication and efforts in building the local talent ecosystem."

Having been a student, a Huawei engineer, an ICT Academy instructor, and an industry professional, I encourage young people to join me at the Huawei ICT Academy and participate in the technology initiatives and programs to help more people achieve their career dreams. I sincerely hope that more students and professionals from Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa will thrive in the ICT field, working together to support the entire continent's digital capabilities and boost its economic prosperity.