Samsung Africa’s mega-million CSR project
DEVELOPMENT| Aug. 8, 2012, 9:07 a.m.
Ntutule Tshenye says he is fortunate to have a job that involves not just his head, but his heart too. Based in Samsung’s offices in Bryanston, South Africa, Tshenye oversees the technology giant’s social investment initiatives across Africa.
It is a job he is proud of. “I tell my colleagues, I have the best job in the company,” he says.
Tshenye is instrumental in helping develop and oversee the various community development projects Samsung is involved in – and there are numerous.
The company has wholeheartedly embraced its philosophy of giving back to the community, and has chosen the development of youth as its theme across Africa.
The company has embarked on a series of initiatives to improve education and empower youths across the continent.
Samsung Academy ramps up operations across Africa
Its Samsung Engineering Academy, which gives practical electrical engineering training to high school students and to tertiary students, is now operational in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.
New academies will be opened in Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Angola later this year, and the existing academies are set to scale up their work, accepting more students and possibly widening their operations to include practical training components of university electrical engineering degrees.
“The training at these academies is tailored to meet local needs,” Tshenye says. But all of them focus heavily on practical work, and in all of them, efforts are made to collaborate with government, tertiary institutions and industry to ensure that the skills development is in line with local needs.
“Just the academies represent a significant investment,” explains Tshenye, “because the students work on the latest technologies. Essentially, they take apart the newest TVs, microwaves and other appliances, learn to repair them and put them back together.”
Once the students have completed their training, some move on to university and some choose to go to work. Samsung and its partner ecosystem absorb these students in full time jobs – either as electrical engineers, technicians or in technical call centres.
“So, they go from knowing little, to having scarce skills and being employable within a year or two,” he says.
In line with efforts to encourage more girls to enter the science and technology fields, Samsung’s Academies make sure there is a gender balance among its students. “The girls are doing well – many of the top students are girls. So we are helping to challenge the stereotypes too,” he says.
Tshenye says the programme is doing a lot more than improving education – it is changing lives.
Another project by Samsung is its solar-powered schools initiative. Since many rural schools do not have electricity or connectivity, Samsung has begun a project to take solar-powered ICT labs to schools in under-served areas.
Two have already been installed – in South Africa and Nigeria, and three are in the process of being rolled out in Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Tanzania.
A new partnership with the African Development Bank will see 30 more rolled out in ten countries across Africa over the next year, says Tshenye.
In addition, Samsung is installing e-learning centres in South Africa, Kenya and Senegal, and also runs a teacher training facility in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“We are committed to empowering youth,” says Tshenye, “because Africa has a huge youth population, unemployment problems and a serious skills shortage.
We call it CSR 2.0 – and we expect it to make a real difference.”
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