Tech for All. Pass it On

[At HUAWEI CONNECT 2019, Huawei Deputy Chairman Ken Hu introduced Huawei’s digital inclusion initiative TECH4ALL before opening the stage to speakers from Rainforest Connection, DIVE, UNESCO, WWF, and WEF. In this series of blog posts, we will look at the partnerships and projects that these organizations are undertaking with Huawei under the TECH4ALL banner. This first post covers Ken Hu’s overview of what Huawei seeks to achieve with TECH4ALL.]

Huawei Deputy Chairman Ken Hu speaking at the TECH4ALL Summit at HUAWEI CONNECT 2019

I always talk about technology, but today I want to talk about people.

Over a long weekend, I went to visit my friend and his family. At dinner, his parents were talking about how they can’t get around the city anymore. Taxis are all booked by apps, and they can’t pay for tickets on the bus.

This really stuck with me.

For most of us, new technology is great. Apps like Didi* and WeChat* make life easier. But for older people who don’t carry a smartphone, like my friend’s parents, new technology can make life much more difficult.

[*Didi and WeChat provide similar functions to Uber and WhatsApp, respectively.]

Digital inclusion: Leaving no one left behind

So today I want to invite everyone to talk about digital inclusion. While we’re promoting digital technology to make the world a better place, what can we do to bring everyone in?

And how can we make sure that no gets left behind?

TECH4ALL: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The 1 to 5 structure of the TECH4ALL initiative

At Huawei, digital inclusion is a key part of our vision and mission. So we put together an action plan.

We call it TECH4ALL.

It’s easy to remember. Just a few numbers: one, two, three, four, five.

One Vision

One vision: Our vision is to bring digital to every person, home, and organization.

But I want our employees and our partners to really understand that this vision isn’t just about technology. Ultimately, it’s about people. We want to make sure that everyone can benefit from digital technology, and that everyone has a place in the future intelligent world.

Two Layers of Value

That means combining two layers of value. As companies, we all care about business value. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we need to balance business value and social value. From my perspective, good business means a positive social impact. That means going beyond profits, and investing in the long-term growth of our partners, our employees, and our communities.

How will we do that?

Three Priorities

Three priorities: Technology, Applications, and Skills.

  • Technology: We want to make sure that all innovation is affordable and accessible for different groups of people. For example, older generations.
  • Applications: We want to make sure that applications meet the special requirements of different industries, regions, and groups. So we will empower the developer ecosystem to create more specialized applications for their communities.
  • Skills: As technology develops, we also want to make sure that everyone in the world has the opportunity to enhance their digital skills.

Digital skills are a huge gap in all markets. By 2020, 90% of jobs in the EU will require digital skills, but right now 43% of EU residents lack basic digital skills such as searching for information online. So with TECH4ALL we will work with governments, local communities, and other industries to enhance digital skills at all levels.

Four Target Domains

Four domains: Digital inclusion is a broad topic, but we have limited resources. We want to keep our efforts focused, and impactful.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals give us a good roadmap for the areas where we can create the most value, because digital technology can help in all 17 goals. With TECH4ALL, we will start with four target domains: Healthcare, education, development, and environment.

We’re going to use digital technology to give more people access to better healthcare and education resources, promote balanced economic opportunities for all people and businesses, and help organizations (particularly NGOs) better protect the planet.

One great example of this is the work we’re doing with an NGO called Rainforest Connection.

Those are the domains we will start with. Now let’s talk about our target.

Five Years, 500 Million People

Our target is simple. We want to help another 500 million people directly benefit from digital technology in the next 5 years.

This is TECH4ALL. It’s a challenging goal. We hope that more people will join us to amplify these efforts.  Let me share with you some of the projects we’ve been working on with our partners.

TECH4ALL in Action

Healthcare – 19 million visually impaired children

According to the World Health Organization, 19 million children around the world are visually impaired. And 70% are preventable and curable, if diagnosed early.  But this is very challenging.

With Track AI, non-trained professionals can do the same work as very experienced eye doctors. They can detect visual impairments when children are only 6 months old, and provide early treatment.

This wasn’t possible before. For these children, it means growing with up with the ability to see the world around them. To me, this is really incredible joint effort between doctors and engineers, who are working togetheracross five different countries, including Spain, UK, Mexico, UAE and China.

We are excited to partner with DIVE Medical on this project.

Education – Digital skills gap in Kenya

Right now in Kenya, mobile networks cover more than 80% of the population, but only about 50% of people are using mobile networks to access the Internet.

What’s the reason?

We thought it might be the cost, but we found out that:

  • 32% of people were not interested in using broadband
  • 20% didn’t know how to use a smartphone
  • and 20% didn’t know how to use the Internet

This isn’t just cost; it’s a lack of awareness and skills. And this reminds us that coverage is not connectivity. Real connectivity depends on applications and skills too.

Education – Empowering teachers in Rural Kenya

To help solve this problem, we’re launching DigiTruck with our partners later this month. A “DigiTruck” is a 40-foot steel cargo container that we’re converting into a fully equipped mobile computer lab. It is 100% solar-powered. It’s almost finished, and when it’s ready, it will have 20 laptops, smartphones, and wireless broadband.

Experienced trainers from a local NGO will drive out to remote villages in Kenya, where they will teach digital skills to teachers, women, and young entrepreneurs. They will learn how to use digital devices, how to teach digital technology to others, and how to be an online worker in the digital economy.

Over the next 12 months, we want to teach at least 6,000 young students and 1,000 teachers. The teachers can bring these new skills to more than 50,000 students around the country.

DigiTruck is a Joint Program Involving Many Partners

DigiTruck is a joint program between Huawei, Close the Gap (an NGO based in Belgium), UNESCO, Safaricom (the leading mobile operator in Kenya), and the local government.

We believe that this joint effort will help build a truly inclusive digital Kenya.

We can’t solve digital inclusion overnight, but every step helps. With small progress, we can make a big difference.

Click the links to visit the Huawei TECH4ALL minisite and other blog posts about TECH4ALL.

Read more by Ken Hu @ HUAWEI CONNECT 2019: Huawei Unveils Computing Strategy & World’s Fastest AI Training Cluster

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