Seeds for the Future Students Design Smart Sign Language Solution

BySusan Wangui

October 20, 2021

Susan Wangui

60 university students from across Kenya completed the September 2021 Virtual Seeds for the Future Program.  SignIT – a group comprising 10 students – won the Tech4Good project prize and were shortlisted to join other teams that will compete at the global final at the end of the year.

The SignIT Recognition Tool aims to solve the communication gap between signers and non-signers, especially during online meetings by using a machine learning to create a tool that recognizes and translates sign language to and from text. Although at the concept stage, this tool can be integrated to online meeting platforms, thus helping people who use sign language participate in online meetings.

The Tech4Good project was introduced alongside the one-week training program to challenge participants to examine how to use technology to address the Kenya’s most pressing social and environmental issues, while encouraging students to increase their social entrepreneurship ability, problem-solving capabilities, and leadership skills through team work with students from many different countries.

The 2021 program consisted of training via live-streamed sessions as well as pre-recorded courses accessible on Huawei’s online platform. In addition to the sessions, the students had access to presentations on tech trends in key industries by Kenyan industry experts and entrepreneurship courses, in addition to the Tech4Good group project. The 2021 cohort also completed training in cutting-edge technologies including 5G, cloud computing, AI, and IoT, and also virtually explored the Huawei exhibition halls.

The students also had the opportunity to collaborate virtually with peers from Qatar and interact with experts from various industries through virtual lectures designed to complement their current knowledge and learn more about Chinese culture and history.

Sixty top students from over 300 applicants were selected by Huawei and Kenya’s ICT Authority following a rigorous application process.

Building Future Talent

The Huawei Seeds for the Future program recognizes the skill gap that exists in the technology sector today across the globe and seeks to bridge the talent gap through training. In Kenya’s case, the program’s success is the result of close collaboration between students, academia, the ICT Authority under the Ministry of ICT, and various other stakeholders, and helps build a stronger and more sustainable ICT and talent ecosystem.

Over the years, Huawei has contributed significantly to building the ICT talent pipeline within Kenya. With the growth of technology, there needs to be a ready and available talent to operate, maintain, and develop ICT infrastructure. In addition to the Seeds for the Future Program, Huawei has also signed partnerships with over 51 institutions of higher learning to become Huawei ICT Academies, which enables their lecturers to offer courses on emerging technologies including cloud computing, AI, and IoT. The Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs has previously partnered with Huawei to build more advanced infrastructure in the country and to bridge the digital divide through various programs including PDTP (Presidential Digital Talent Program) and Ajira.

Voices from the Program

“I was able to understand how 5G, cloud computing, blockchain, AI and IOT are revolutionizing the world.” – Judy Achieng, student of Electrical and Telecommunication Engineering, Multi Media University pursuing.

“I wish to thank Huawei for working closely with the government over the years and for developing the Seeds for The Future program as part of their contribution towards supporting our digital transformation agenda.” – Jerome Ochieng, Principal Secretary, ICT Authority, Kenya

“Huawei is contributing to technology programs where the youth accumulate ICT knowledge and expertise that fits into the government’s goals thereby developing its human resource.”  Sarah Serem, Kenyan Ambassador to China

“As an industry leader, we are committed to promoting the development of ICT in the countries we operate in. We continuously seek to close the gap between knowledge learned in the school and industry skills thereby enhancing knowledge transfer and building ICT capacity.” Fiona Pan, Deputy CEO, Huawei

The Seeds for the Future program is Huawei’s global flagship Corporate Social Responsibility program which aims to nurture young ICT professionals in countries where Huawei operates. The Kenyan students were the seventh cohort of students to go through the program since it started in 2014 and the second cohort to receive training virtually.

Further Reading

Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.

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Susan Wangui

Communications Specialist, Huawei Kenya

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