Samsung increases footprint in Lesotho


Signs working partnership with the NUL


MASERU – National University of Lesotho (NUL) students have been given an opportunity to acquire skills in coding and Programming, Python and Software Development in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data to increase their chances of employability after completing school.

This is set to be achieved through the new Samsung Innovation Campus (SIC) programme launched in Maseru last week, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by Samsung Electronics and the university to cement a strategic partnership created through Samsung’s corporate social responsibility programmes.

The SIC programme will provide technical skills that will enable the student community to not only thrive in but also lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) with ease.

Recently, Samsung launched a partnership with the Lerotholi Polytechnic for its SIC to boost youth employment in the technology sector and plans to continue seeking opportunities to collaborate with the government of Lesotho to further grow the country’s economy. Speaking at the launch Samsung South Africa’s president and CEO, Bumsuk Hong, said the institution’s School of Engineering is aligned with their objectives, saying it was an enabler for this partnership.

The MoU follows an earlier visit to Lesotho by Hong, as part of a South Korean Presidential Special Envoy and Delegation that visited the country for an investment briefing session in February. The investment briefing session was organised by the LesothoNational Development Corporation (LNDC) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry meant to strengthen further bonds of economic co-operation of the existing strategic partnerships and bilateral agreements between South Korea and Lesotho.

During this briefing session, an invitation was also extended by the Presidential Envoy from South Korea to Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane, foreign affairs minister Lejone Mpotjoane, and finance minister Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, to attend South Korea’s special summit with Africa scheduled for 2024.

Speaking during the launch NUL vice chancellor, Professor Isaac Olusula Fajana, indicated that the campus initiative, courtesy of Samsung, seeks to create a platform for imparting skills in science and technology giving the youth and students the opportunity to enhance their employment prospects and gain practical education in digital technologies through both classroom and online based learning.

Fajana said through the initiative, Samsung will be supporting NUL with its Coding and Programming curriculum. He said this will be delivered across different disciplines to promote the importance of multi or inter disciplinary learning. He said at a later stage, the curriculum will extend to cover cutting edge content in AI and IoT. Part of the support, he added, includes academic tools, lecturers’ salaries and material that are needed for this course.

The targeted number of beneficiaries for the first cohort is 30 students. “At a time when the world is changing, shifting and moving in the direction of technology, the time during which we find ourselves, commonly referred to as the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

“Certainly this is the time for us to introduce and impart mathematics, science and tech oriented skills such as coding and AI to ensure that we produce the calibre of graduates that will easily take up space and become key players in the world we live in today,” he said.

“As the NUL, we believe that this SIC programme will play a crucial role in assisting us to achieve our vision of being the leading university in both teaching and research to provide innovative solutions to societal problems,” he added.

Fajana noted that the partnership is important as it will also assist the school’s Faculty of Science and Technology in the pursuit of its mandate to ensure placement of science, technology and innovation as key drivers for the developmental process of Basotho as contained in the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) II.

On the other hand, president and CEO Samsung Africa, Bumsuk Hong, described the SIC programme as a strategic partnership with NUL that will not only assist in developing Lesotho into a major player in the 4th Industrial Revolution, but also help it become a stronger and inclusive economy which, in turn, creates further opportunities for growth.

He added that the SIC aims to provide NUL students from underserved communities an opportunity to gain skills in coding and programming, AI, IoT and Big Data. Hong also said the programme allows them to invest in the country’s youth, assist them in preparing for possible careers in technology and contribute towards the economy of Lesotho.

“As Samsung, we believe that the future of any country lies in the hands of young people and education gives them the opportunity to realise their full potential. This partnership will also enable the NUL Faculty of Science and Technology to drive the developmental process of Basotho.

“We are heavily invested in the development of people and communities to bring positive social change and build a better world for all, not just through our products and services, but also by creating opportunities for learning and growth,” he said.

For her part, the Minister of Information, Communication, Science, Technology and Innovation, Nthati Moorosi, said this partnership ought not to be taken for granted as it is an act that defines the very fibre of Basotho and expression used idioms such as ‘letšoele le beta poho’ – which loosely translated means that united we can conquer all.

She said Lesotho identified technology and innovation as part of the first key priority areas. The minister noted that NSDP II of 2018/2022 contained some of the key outcomes under the key priorities which include research for policy making and product development, establishment of functional inflation centres and technology parts and improved use of Information Technology (IT).

“What we need to focus on as a country is how we can transfer piece and pieces of research and innovation into a mainstream economy. We intend to take this initiative to the cabinet to ensure that the economy and innovation are aligned.

“The day marks a significant milestone in our national journey towards fostering a culture of scientific discovery, technological advancement and entrepreneurial advancement,” she added.

“The partnership between the NUL and the ministry has conducted an introductory training session for Lesotho scientists and beginners to prepare and equip them with essential skills for the potential of high performance computing in their research endeavours,” she said.

Education minister, Professor Ntoi Rapapa, also highlighted that this is the second programme that Samsung is supporting in less than a year. He added education is the key to empowering people for a better future. Prof Rapapa said the initiative aligns very well with the NSDP and the government of Lesotho’s commitment to access communication and innovation.

He also highlighted that the Ministry of Education will support and ensure the success of the programme. These kinds of partnerships are crucial to Lesotho’s socio-economic development aspirations, as the country has made great progress in the field of education and has ambitions to build a better future for its youth through education. The government of South Korea is planning to open vocational training centres, improve educational environments, help with the customs modernisation project and launch afforestation projects in Lesotho.

Last month Samsung also officially relaunched its Customer Service Centre at the Maseru Industrial Area to bring much-needed post-sales support and convenience to local customers. The new service centre has been rebranded and improved with the latest Samsung technology and is now in an optimal position to give greater access to even more customers.

The service centre had to be upgraded and moved to its current location to make it easily accessible to customers.  It is a big improvement from the old one which didn’t cater for walk-in customers and wasn’t supporting all Samsung products.

With the new service centre, Samsung aims to create a walk-in facility for the convenience of the Basotho customers. The company also wants to provide direct support for mobile phones that wasn’t there before, which meant customers had to send their devices to South Africa for repairs.

With this move, Samsung says they also want to grow the repair environment and create job opportunities in the capital, Maseru.

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