Telkom has reaffirmed its dedication to cultivating emerging technological skills as its Centre of Excellence (CoE) reaches its 25-year milestone.
Originating as a collaborative initiative involving Telkom, the telecommunications industry, and the government, the CoE was established to advance research in communication technology and related sciences. It also aimed to offer facilities that would inspire young scientists and engineers to pursue their research passions within South Africa.
The funding for CoEs was a joint effort involving Telkom, companies within the ICT industry, and the Department of Trade and Industry through the Technology and Human Resource for Industry Programme (THRIP). However, since 2015, THRIP has redirected its focus and is no longer involved in the CoE Programme.
“We are keen to ensure that the programme remains sustainable,” said Serame Taukobong, Telkom Group CEO.
The core of our contemporary existence revolves around the ICT sector.
With digital advancements reshaping whole industries, cultivating the appropriate technological skill set has become an imperative for maintaining competitiveness in the global economy.
“However, to be effective, these emerging tech skills must be relevant to the society where they will be deployed,” said Taukobong.
“That is the thinking behind the Telkom CoE Programme, which creates opportunities for young graduates to do research in a world-class environment, developing skills and growing South Africa’s ICT knowledge to become internationally competitive.”
There are currently 15 CoEs, making it the largest coordinated research effort in ICT in South Africa.
The CoE Programme provides funding and support for the specialised training of post-graduate students (PhD, Masters and Honours) in Computer Science and Engineering (CS&E), and the enablement of technical research and innovation at scale in South Africa.
Over the years, Telkom has invested R125 million in the Centres of Excellence. This has borne fruit, with 3 641 students graduating as engineers, computer scientists and related professions since the inception of the programme.
Of the total graduate cohort, 3 204 are employed in ICT, of which 309 were taken on by Telkom between 2004 and 2022.
The CoE Programme this year celebrates its 25th year of existence – its silver jubilee. The CoE Programme was established with the support of more than 50 funding partners, some of which have remained as funding and research support partners of the programme, alongside Telkom.
“The programme has given our industry 25 years of sector skills transformation, providing a critical platform for student training. It has delivered 25 years of African research contributions, as academics, postgraduate students and researchers add to the body of ICT knowledge,” Taukobong explains.
“It has supported 25 years of sector growth through Research and Development (R&D) and public-private partnerships.
“With emerging nations facing an ongoing brain-drain of rare tech skills, the CoE Programme has also played a critical role in maintaining a pipeline of skills into the ICT sector – a part of the economy with enormous growth potential.”
Taukobong added that the acceleration of digital transformation continues at a breath-taking pace, and we cannot afford to leave any South African behind.
“The work of the CoE is entering an exciting new phase, and Telkom remains committed to its growth and expansion.”