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Telkom pledges to nurture talent after achieving Centres of Excellence milestone

By , Africa editor
South Africa , 28 Aug 2023
Telkom Group CEO Serame Taukobong.
Telkom Group CEO Serame Taukobong.

Following the release, today, of an impact report for its Centres of Excellence (CoE) project, which has run over the last 25 years, Telkom has pledged to nurture SA's tech talent, and urged the broader ICT sector to do the same.

The report, titled Elevating Excellence: A Reflection on the Sustainable Impact of Telkom's Centre of Excellence Programme 1997 – 2023, was presented to Philly Mapulane, Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, at the company’s annual Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (often referred to as SATNAC).

Telkom launched the CoE project in 1997, as a collaboration with other 50 industry players and the government.

The CoE programme was established to meet the demand for high-level computer science and engineering (CS&E) skills in the country, enhance research and innovation for a developing economy, promote collaboration and partnerships to drive innovation, and provide sustainable funding for research at tertiary institutions.

Telkom claimed the programme has improved the local ICT industry’s global competitiveness and has enhanced the quality and availability of highly skilled CS&E professionals in the country.

To this end, it said the programme has contributed to a postgraduate student throughput of approximately 3,641 students (714 Ph.Ds, 1,457 Masters, and 1,470 Honours graduates).

Dr Mmaki Jantjies, Telkom’s group executive, head of innovation and transformation, said: ‘’At least 3,204 alumni have been employed within the technology industry, with 309 alumni building careers within Telkom. Most alumni have stayed in the country and many now hold managerial and technical leadership positions in academia, private and public sector.

“Some CoE alumni pursued careers in academia, and some are now CoE heads, transferring the skills and knowledge gained during their studies to the next cohort, contributing to the sustainability of the CoE programme.”

She said analyses of programme data suggests the CoE programme has enabled 2,364 peer-reviewed publications, 3,973 conference papers and the development of 969 book chapters.

“This is a calculated total of 7,307 research outputs, delivered over the 25-year period,” Jantjies said.

Serame Taukobong, Group CEO, Telkom, said: “Using rigorous research and analysis, the report highlights challenges, celebrates the many successes, and identifies areas of potential improvement to ensure the sustainability and longevity of the programme.”

He added the company is keen to ensure that the programme remains sustainable. Over the 25 years, Telkom has invested R125 million in the programme.

In addition, he said: “The CoE programme has been responsible for a vast amount of research and the development of four new products – even though this is not its primary focus.

“No one could have foreseen the speed at which the ICT sector would grow, when, in 1997, Telkom launched the CoE initiative. The acceleration of digital transformation continues at a breath-taking pace, and we cannot afford to leave any South African behind.”

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