Huawei Digital Power has launched a talent development program aimed at upskilling 1,000 practitioners and tertiary students with technical knowledge and skills in the digital power space.
The program is initially being rolled out in Seven countries – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia – as the demand for technical staff in renewable energies continues to rise annually.
The program was announced during the Solar Show Africa 2022 as part of the tech giant’s commitment to work with stakeholders to drive growth and ecosystem building of Africa’s solar sector. The training offered will focus on ensuring that all participants have the relevant certification needed to participate in the continent’s solar space. As a result, this will strengthen continuous industry certifications, increase technical professionalism, promote local technology and skills transfer, and increase the rate of recruitment and retention of highly skilled technical personnel. In addition to a theoretical component, the Huawei Digital Power talent programme will offer hands-on operations,
on-site practice opportunities, and a training camp.
It is a response to a major challenge among solar companies where new hires typically lack the experience, training, and technical skills needed to perform many of the emerging jobs in the sector, especially with the increase of utility-scale projects as many countries move to increase the generation of off-grid electricity.
“The challenge is that a company interested in the renewables sector would need to hire the necessary skills in year one and provide product-specific, on-the-job training for the first two years to ensure they are ready for a project in year three – and in most cases, this isn’t feasible. The ability to design and deliver a wind or solar plant is usually based on experience, which is difficult to attain when sectors and technologies are still relatively new. The result is that we are expecting growth in this sector – but we don’t have the skills to support that growth,” said Mr Xia Hesheng, President of Huawei Southern Africa Digital Power Business.
Data shows that between 2019 and 2020, solar and wind capacity increased by 13 percent and 11 percent, respectively. He added that with African countries having more than 40% of the world’s solar energy resources, it has become even more critical that the right skills are in place in order to unlock that potential.
The training program comes at a time when it’s becoming increasingly clear that renewables will be crucial to Africa achieving its development goals while also adhering to its climate commitments. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, Sub-Sahara Africa’s renewable energy capacity has grown to 3% of the total installed capacity. The agency notes that Africa currently has a demand for nearly 100,000 technicians annually yet the sector currently employs less than 20,000 people.
Some countries like Kenya remain an emerging hub for innovation and adoption of stand-alone systems while others, including Tanzania, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, have introduced dedicated policies and regulations. Digital technology will be key to ensuring that the rise of renewables is as efficient as possible. Renewables will evolve into a digital future, where every stage of generation, transmission, storage, trading, and use of power will be digitalized to be better monitored and managed for optimal cost, safety, reliability, and efficiency. Huawei, with its ICT expertise, is good at that. Its participation, therefore, presents a very good supplement to the industry in Africa, in terms of upscaling personnel and enriching solutions.
“At Huawei, we have been working in the field of PV for almost a decade, using a bit to manage watt, allowing each ray of sunlight to generate more electricity,” said Xia.