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Cisco today announced the launch of its fourth EDGE centre in partnership with the Eastern Cape Provincial Government to develop digital skills in the region and enhance the employability of the community it serves.
The new Cisco EDGE Centre is located at the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) Science and Technology Park, making it perfectly situated for the three major universities in the area, as well as to service the significant manufacturing sectors of East London. With unemployment and poverty in the area a significant cause for concern, the centre’s focus on job creation and skills development will be a critical enabler to help transition the Eastern Cape into a digital-forward region.
“Guided by our purpose to ‘Power an Inclusive Future for All’ in partnership with government, we are committed to leveraging our people, processes, technology and our unmatched network of industry partners to help bridge the digital divide. We already have several initiatives in place and the ELIDZ and Cisco’s EDGE Centre will bring industry-leading technologies to the region,” says Smangele Nkosi, GM of Cisco in South Africa.
This EDGE centre marks another significant milestone of Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) Program in South Africa which was launched in 2019. Cisco signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with government to support the country’s national digitisation agendas. The CDA programme investment of ZAR 140 Million (9,2M USD) focuses on three key areas: job creation through Cisco incubation centres, skills and talent development, and National Cyber Security.
This new EDGE centre in East London follows similar initiatives in Cape Town, Pretoria, and the Dube Trade Port in KwaZulu-Natal. These centres provide small businesses with enablement and industry specialisations, as well as access to workspaces, conferencing, and training facilities, and to global Cisco experts. Through the centres, Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) will also be given access to best of breed products and high-speed broadband connectivity. All of this with one aim, to create new job opportunities for the citizens of this country.
“SMMEs are a critical growth driver to meet the National Development Plan targets. Cisco can make a difference in the way these businesses work, digitally connect, interact, and learn in South Africa. As an expansion of its CDA programme, the multi-million-rand Cisco EDGE Centre investment in East London will provide much-needed access to managed workspaces of the future with Cisco Meraki high-speed broadband services, Webex collaboration-enabled facilities, skills, and talent development programmes through Cisco’s Networking Academy,” says Simphiwe Kondlo, CEO of the ELIDZ.
Cisco was responsible for the infrastructure and building investment of the Cisco EDGE Centre, as well as providing workstations for access to all Cisco NetAcad training courses. These online courses are self-paced and equip students with the skills required to pursue careers in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. Cisco will also operate the centre for two years to assist in SMME enablement in the region. Furthermore, the centre will play host to hackathons to stimulate more interest in technology skills development in the Eastern Cape.
The Acting Director General of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, Ms Nonkqubela Jordan-Dyani, explained: “We call on all organisations to collaborate with government and to play a role in helping aid the transition into a digitally transformed economy for the Eastern Cape, with its historical high unemployment rate and poverty levels, the skills development facilitated through the Cisco EDGE Centre will support government in its objective to prepare for skills of the future and build digital citizens. Cisco is introducing access to its NetAcad offerings to people who are looking to upskill themselves and provide for their families and is growing and developing SMME’s who are vital to our economic growth. We are also looking forward to the innovation coming out of the centre”
Cisco’s Nkosi concludes by saying: “The EDGE centres programme is proving to be a game changing approach to helping the country drive digitisation from within, which has already resulted in over 100 training sessions completed with 880 individuals trained, as well as 120 SMME companies actively involved in the initiative. As technology leaders, we have a moral responsibility to help connect people and equip them with the digital skills essential for the modern workplace.”
Cisco’s CDA programme has developed strategic partnerships with governments across the globe and is now active in 44 countries with more than 1200 active or completed projects aimed at unlocking the true value of mass-scale digitisation.