International Relations and Cooperation Minister Dr Naledi Pandor has lauded the work of Huawei in growing South Africa’s economy, citing its information and communications technology (ICT) youth empowerment programme.
Addressing a weekend ceremony in KwaZulu-Natal to officially hand over a newly renovated science laboratory and the library to Siqongweni High School in Pietermaritzburg’s Imbali township – made possible through assistance from Huawei South Africa – Pandor acknowledged the contribution of the company in South Africa.
She said of government’s decision to form a public-private partnership with Huawei South Africa: “The science laboratory we are handing over today in partnership with you is a clear demonstration of what is possible if we all work together, as government, business and communities.
“The investment you are making to these learners through this science laboratory will yield positive benefits, not just for South Africa but the entire world – a positive reflection.
“I hope this is the start of a long relationship that Huawei South Africa will have with not just this school but others across South Africa.”
In a wide-ranging interview with The Citizen – responding to a question on how South Africa maintained a diplomatic balance amid strained China-US relations – Pandor said South Africa had very clear national interests and values, identifying partners to SA’s advantage.
Huawei has proven to be a good partner of South Africa in helping to grow the country’s economy.
“With all countries, we pursue the interests of South Africa.
“We don’t have enemies, but we are very clear as to what our values and principles are,” Pandor said.
“We also don’t become involved in the quarrels of others, because we believe in our national interests – important for South Africa to independently establish its platform of cooperation.
“We also believe that all countries have a right to pursue business interests and companies must have a right to freely engage in business development, according to national laws of every country.”
South Africa respected the legitimate right of companies in the country – including Huawei – in developing their business in an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment.
Her remarks reflected a statement contained in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation annual performance plan for 2021/22, saying: “South Africa should avoid taking sides in the growing tensions between China and the USA, to avoid compromising trade and investment with either country.”
Digital technologies, she added, were the future.
“As the government, we have already established the Digital Industrial Revolution Commission, which includes the private sector and civil society, in order to leverage the opportunities that come with the Fourth Industrial Revolution to bolster our science and technology industries.
“I am aware that Huawei is already heavily invested in youth ICT training projects as part of its corporate social investment responsibility contributions aimed at reversing the ICT skills shortage in the country.”