ICT has been critical to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and transforming society over the long term. But the key to progress is laying the foundation for constant evolution, writes Chen Lei, President of Huawei Southern Africa Region.

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of this year, organisations across the planet began to shift into action. But as critical as it was to react appropriately, it has also been important to proactively prepare for the next phase.

At Huawei, we are aware of the massive effect of the pandemic, as well as how seriously communities would be affected. However, we are also conscious that as well as protecting lives, we need to help lay the foundation for the next stage of society’s technological advancement – the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

I’ve been inspired by a recent YouTube video of young South African dancer Hlumelo, who has been under lockdown in his home township of Gugulethu. A member of the Zama Dance School, Hlumelo has not let the lockdown hold him back, and has continued practising his steps for the moment when he and his friends can perform together again.

Similarly, during the Chinese lockdown, members of the Shanghai ballet continued to practise – wearing facemasks – for their upcoming performance of Swan Lake. They took precautions, but remained focused on the next phase of their development.

This reminds me of a saying from a Chinese poem that “Good honing gives a sharp edge to a sword. Bitter cold adds keen fragrance to plum blossom”. It implies that preparation is essential to being effective, and that hardship can shape ultimate success. Indeed, chance favours the prepared mind.

We understand that ICT has a great role to play in terms of keeping us all connected during lockdown, quarantine and social isolation. But technology is also fundamental to economic recovery for Africa. 


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