[Editorial] Samsung’s CSR Journey & Positive Impact in AfricaShare open/close
By Bumsuk Hong, Director: CEO and President, Samsung Africa
Since the dawn of the South African democracy when Samsung entered the African continent through the establishment of the South Africa office, our company has been investing in education-focused Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes for the future, which have now led to positive social changes within the broader African continent.
In our history of Corporate Citizenship in Africa, our CSR activities have been focusing mainly on Education and Skills Development for Employment as well as Sustainability efforts. Our success in the last three decades is also due to our Operational Synergies that were created through our Associations with government institutions and NGOs alike. In the South African context, our CSR programmes are complemented by our already successful landmark multi-million-rand Equity Equivalent Investment Programme (EEIP), which was launched in 2019. Our ten-year plan aims to address key developmental aspects linked to the National Development Plan (NDP) and the overall transformation of the economy.
As a company, we also subscribe to the sustainable development goals of the United Nations Development Plan (UNDP). Our advocacy to the United Nations Development Goals (UNDG’s)* of “Quality Education” and “Reduced Inequalities” aims to improve access to technology, information and communication services for the youth in the continent. For decades, our African operation has been putting great emphasis on the need to empower the youth. We have done this by ensuring that young people contribute greatly to Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) agenda and objectives.
To do this, we needed to ensure that the execution of our CSR strategy is linked and focused 100% on education through technology, targeting mostly the young people in the continent. This has, over time had a positive impact on youth within the regional community. As technology suppliers, we understand the importance of 4IR in the lives of the broad youth base in the continent and most importantly; access to new technologies.
*Source: UNDP Report: https://books.google.co.za/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ARtZEAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA89&dq=Managing+inclusive+digital+transformation,+lessons+from+100+countries&ots=Hofj6JhvJI&sig=k2vZvDUf13fZG8zbvgWmfuvp1gM
We have therefore been striving to use technology to develop future innovators for a better world. Our youth in Africa is currently in a positive position to seize the opportunities ahead.
We have undertaken a number of forward-thinking CSR initiatives in order to empower the youth of tomorrow. As a legacy programme of Solve for Tomorrow and Samsung Innovation Campus, Samsung Engineering Academy aimed to address the shortages in technical and engineering skills in the continent by educating the next generation from 2012 to 2020. Hundreds of graduates from countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and more completed the programme successfully, emerging as changemakers to lead innovation for years to come. Additionally, we launched the Women Technical Programme and Boys to Men initiative in South Africa in 2018 to provide technical education opportunities to disadvantaged students, and the Coding Academy in Rwanda in 2021 to equip students with the latest knowledge in coding and software development.
In addition, as an organisation that is well aware of the great importance of education, we have in recent years continued our quest of equipping young people both in high school and tertiary level with the skills and knowledge they will need to build a better world. As a company, we have launched many skills development initiatives aimed at addressing Africa’s digital divide. Over the past few years, we have been able to put technology in the hands of the youth from under-served communities and provided them with smart classrooms in the form of ICT Innovation Hubs or Smart Labs.
These Innovation Hubs or Smart Labs created access to computer literacy, the internet, basic IT and coding skills in remote communities and they included the following:
- An investment into an ICT Project where an ICT Innovation Hub was unveiled aimed at benefitting the community in Kwa-Zulu Natal School.
- We set up an Innovation Campus (Innovation Hub) in Agona Swedru in the Central Region aimed at leveraging technology to support the dreams of young Ghanaians. In this Hub, we housed a series of coding programmes where young children between the ages of 5-to-17 years in public basic schools in the community were trained on technology and coding.
- And furthermore, we donated an Innovation Hub in Lagos, Nigeria.
From the ICT Innovation Hubs, we evolved into the global Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition. As a result, the Solve for Tomorrow competition based on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) was launched for the first time in Africa in 2023.
Recently launched and piloted in 51 schools across South Africa, this programme is providing learners in grade 10 and 11 from underserved communities an opportunity to gain invaluable skills, while solving some of the challenges within their communities. Learners are encouraged to use STEM to find solutions to some of the most pressing societal challenges faced by their communities. The launch event that was held in March was used as a platform to announce the 2023 Top 10 schools who were going through to Phase Two (2).
At this stage, they had an opportunity to tackle a challenge and produce tangible innovations to help improve issues within their communities. With Samsung helping them with resources and mentors guiding them, the learners had to conduct research and develop prototypes for the challenges they had identified. For their efforts, Mbilwi Secondary School from Venda in Limpopo walked away with the first prize, while second place was taken by Maphuthaditshaba Secondary from Acornhoek (Mpumalanga) and in third place, it was Umlazi Comprehensive Tech from Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Through the Samsung Innovation Campus (SIC) programme, we have successfully partnered with universities of technology including the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in the Eastern Cape and the Central University of Technology (CUT) in the Free State to develop and teach coding, software development, internet of things (IOT) and artificial intelligence (AI) skills to youth from under-serviced communities.
We have further expanded the SIC into other African countries such as Lesotho and entered into partnerships with Lerotholi Polytechnic (LP) as well as the National University of Lesotho (NUL).
There is an upcoming SIC graduation of the first cohort in Lesotho on 03 November 2023. Also, we are currently working on further growing the SIC programme by rolling it out into the rest of Africa, into territories including Kenya, Malawi, Namibia and Nigeria.
Furthermore, some of our successful legacy education programmes that have not only seen youth being empowered and comfortable in the technology space, but also employable with positive ripple effects on their families include the following:
- As part of the EEIP, we sponsored a 24-month SETA accredited Air-conditioning and Refrigeration apprenticeship programme which trained about 40 selected apprentices who had never been exposed to technology before. Recently, 38 of these youth graduated as well as two that received certificates of attendance, to work with mentors to grow their skills and address ICT education for SA’s unemployed youth.
- In 2020, as part of addressing the country’s critical shortage of technicians to service consumer electronics and hand-held devices, we sponsored a 12-month SETA accredited Electronics apprenticeship programme. Through the EEIP programme, about 41 learners were enrolled in two cohorts for the 1st phase of the programme with the aim of empowering youth from rural areas and townships by equipping them with much-needed skills to land employment or start their own businesses. The programme had broad reach in terms of participants as it has attracted candidates from the north, south, midland and coastal areas of Kwa-Zulu Natal. In 2022, this programme was expanded to include the Eastern Cape .
With these CSR initiatives that are designed to make a difference to all people, we are striving to ensure that students and learners are empowered to ultimately grow and build a better future for themselves, their families and the African community at large.
Samsung proudly supports Busan’s bid for the World Expo 2030.