ON TUESDAY, Huawei Technologies (TT) Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Trinidad and Tobago, further cementing the relationship between the technology manufacturer and the local learning institution.
“We are determined not to become an inward-looking, parochial institution,” said Prof Ken Julien, chairman of UTT, noting that the university has forged collaborations with several international partners.
In a speech before the signing, Julien noted that Huawei might want to cast its collaborative sights further east to the long-planned technology site Tamana Park.
“We have a beautiful park, but little else,” Julien said.
“We asked an expert what would make it successful, and he told us first-class communications at almost zero cost. An investor would come expecting and anticipating that as a key component of its infrastructure.
“We have to have that little extra to attract industry,” he said and pointedly invited Huawei to consider getting involved in that aspect of the project.
This drifted a bit from the stated purpose of the morning’s event, which formally announced the third local call for student participants in Huawei’s Seeds of the Future programme.
Huawei sent four students last year and will send ten in 2018.
The immersive learning experience has been running for the last ten years and offers students a fortnight-long deep dive into both Chinese culture and the massive technology campus that represents Huawei’s core brain trust and development hub in Shenzen.
The company has hosted 1,700 students from 150 universities representing 67 countries as part of the Seeds of the Future programme.
If your only experience with the name Huawei is with their Android smartphones, consider that your phone calls and mobile Internet in TTgo have probably been routed through or bounced off their equipment.
The company has been doing infrastructure for local telecommunications in TT for more than 15 years now. Alison Morris, one of the students who left for last year’s gathering in China on October 31 (http://ow.ly/g9ts30j3CgI), described it as “a life-changing experience. “I doubt that I would have had an experience like that any other way.” Morris was struck by how deeply technology is embedded in Shenzen, a Chinese smart city.
“There is tech in their manhole covers,” she said, laughing. “The scale of it, the way the technology is embedded in everything.“I was more into telecommunications at the office level, not at the service provider level.
“I got rid of a lot of my inhibitions and preconceived notions. Seeing their technology installations and being coached on how it all works, I began to realise that it’s not just for foreigners and for other people.
“I’m now open to pursuing education at the service provider level, not just at the level of business operations.”
According to Mr Zhaobo, general manager of Huawei TT, some of the students will be joining the company.
“That is our commitment to TT,” he said, “to build ICT talent and then give that talent the work opportunities to use what they have learned to develop their own country.”
It’s a commitment that China’s ambassador to TT, Song Yumin, suggested will also be growing on the macro scale as he invited TT to participate in the first China International Import Expo in November.
“In 2017, the foreign trade between China and Trinidad and Tobago amounted to US$610 million and by the end of 2017, FDI (foreign direct investment) from China to TT hit US$600 million.
China plans to import US$10 trillion in goods and services over the next year.”
Mark Lyndersay is the editor of technewstt.com. An expanded version of this column can be found there