“Technology made large populations possible; large populations now make technology indispensable,” said American writer Joseph Krutch. Technology has indeed become an essential part of our lives today – it powers our communication, work, and has been a crucial part of the pandemic response.

Asia Pacific’s spending on tech was over US $380 billion in 2019, according to market research company IDC. The region is “home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies”, said Jay Chen, Vice President of Huawei Asia Pacific.

The region holds a promising future as a hub for digital innovation. At Huawei’s annual Connect event last Friday, the tech giant revealed its plan to build a vibrant tech ecosystem in Asia Pacific.

Harness ICT for new industrial applications

“In 2020, as 5G has been rolled out at scale worldwide, connectivity, cloud, AI, computing, and industry applications have … created unprecedented opportunities for Asia Pacific’s digital transformation,” said Chen.

Using the technologies in combination will create new innovations in different industries, he added.

Huawei’s cloud technology facilitated data sharing between different departments in the Longgang district of Shenzhen, enabling migrant workers to apply for free education for their children in two days, instead of 20 days before.

Big data and artificial intelligence have also reduced crime rates by 28 per cent from 2016 to 2017. When police receive notifications about a lost child, for example, it uses facial recognition and big data analytics to locate the child within the city.

The Shenzhen airport has also worked with Huawei to implement various technologies for a smooth and efficient passenger experience. Facial recognition enables passengers to pass through boarding gates in 1 to 2 seconds, enhancing the boarding efficiency. Big data is used to link up its air traffic and ground services systems, creating an air traffic clearance rate of 80 per cent for 23 consecutive months as of July 2020.

Train ICT talent

Building a vibrant tech ecosystem requires talent – and APAC is in dire need of that. Research by consulting firm Korn Ferry revealed the region will face an imminent labour shortage of 47 million by 2030.

To close the talent gap, Huawei has set up 103 ICT academies in the region. The academies partner with higher education institutes to offer ICT courses and training for over 45,000 students every year.

The company has also established an online learning platform, Huawei Talent Online. Students can learn through the 300 free ICT courses offered, in the format of live webinars, experiments, or simulation exercises.

Huawei has already trained more than 100,000 talents to date, and aims to develop at least 200,000 ICT professionals over the next 5 years, said Chen.

Accelerate startup growth

A nation’s startups are a big part of the tech ecosystem and a key driver of innovation. Huawei aims to help the region’s startups flourish through its Spark program.

The program provides startups with two tiers of support. In the first tier, businesses will receive free cloud resources, AI modules, and software support. In the next tier, startups will be invited to market events to broaden their networks. Huawei will also provide them with mentorship opportunities, and connect them with potential customers.

Moving forward, Huawei will continue to work with its partners to accelerate digital transformation in APAC. It aims to harness cloud computing, AI, and 5G for connectivity and new industrial applications.

Digital is the only way forward from here. Technology, together with skilled talent and innovative businesses, can propel nations forward to a resilient digital future.