ABB investing in Africa’s youth to shift meaningful change

Social investment in Digital Technology Centre offers under-privileged youth access to the fast-changing digital technology economy to develop local Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions. 

For decades ABB has been driving growth through technology and innovation on the African continent and worldwide. Business with a passion is at the core of what drives ABB’s innovation, for the benefit of modern society. As businesses it is incumbent upon us to continue the cycle of learning, to transfer skills, aid with resources and provide the expertise to guide the next generation.

ABB’s CSI initiatives are an extension of this passion. Giving back, educating and providing tools and resources to the community, is the legacy of a company, and ABB’s 110-year African heritage is proof that giving back should be the very fabric of any entity, large or small. ABB’s brand promise “let’s write the future”, is what initiated the ABB and University of the Witwatersrand Technology Centre partnership. About R9 billion is spent annually in South Africa on corporate social investment, with close to 50% being spent on education at various levels (source: Trialogue, 2017). The state of educational institutions, national skills shortages in the country as well as high unemployment, especially youth unemployment, is the purpose for this year on year investment.

The University of the Witwatersrand Technology Centre, known as the Tshimologong Precinct, is a digital technology centre, inspired by the Kendal Square Initiative in Boston, US, and the East London Tech City in London's East End, UK, that is powering digital innovation, catalysing Black-owned tech start-ups for participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Centrally located in Braamfontein, it also serves as the platform for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0. ABB provides seed funding for technology transfer projects and application of its own technologies in the African economic context. The University has partnerships in the Southern African Development Community (SADEC) region, and this fosters growth amongst African colleagues, initiates conversation and transfer of learnings.  

Leon Viljoen MD ABB Southern Africa says “We are excited that our social investment will offer young people access to the digital economy and provide the opportunity for ABB to contribute towards industrial automation and digital technology in the region. It also provides us the opportunity to interact with future business and entrepreneurial leaders, who are brimming with bright ideas. As businesses we are responsible to shape the future by mentoring those that follow us”.  

For example, ABB Ability™ would help to show young digital technology graduates, researchers, developers and entrepreneurs the applications that ABB has for the digital future, in manufacturing, agriculture, marine utilities, food and beverage industry and mining. ABB's involvement could help to extend the centre's reach into Southern Africa, enabling these countries to benefit from Industry 4.0. This could potentially divert attention away from global research centres to Africa, helping to elevate Africa’s research and development capabilities.

Another proud initiative is the ABB Jürgen Dormann Foundation for Engineering Education. The foundation is named after Jürgen Dormann in recognition of his contribution to ABB. He served as Chairman from 2001 to 2007, and was also CEO from September 2002 to December 2004. The foundation provides scholarships to talented engineering students in different parts or the world, for their first academic degree, who can prove a high standard of academic achievement and who need financial support to be able to continue their studies. Scholarships, which are awarded for a maximum of five years of study.

Students on the African continent have also been recipients of the programme. At the inaugural 2015 signing ceremony that took place at the University of Johannesburg’s Auckland Campus, Professor Johan Meyer applauded ABB for giving students a chance that he described as an opportunity of a lifetime. He said there is a shortage of such candid acts and genuine Corporate Social Responsibility”

ABB opened the Customer World Africa 2018 conference at the Sandton Convention Centre this week. One of the many highlights included showcasing advanced products / solutions in digital offerings to drive growth and unlock further value for customers. The event was attended by customers throughout Africa, media, academia, experts and thought leaders from the energy, engineering, water and waste management, food and beverage, utilities, service, digital as well as the mining sector.  

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a pioneering technology leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally. Continuing a history of innovation spanning more than 130 years, ABB today is writing the future of industrial digitalization with two clear value propositions: bringing electricity from any power plant to any plug and automating industries from natural resources to finished products. As title partner of Formula E, the fully electric international FIA motorsport class, ABB is pushing the boundaries of e-mobility to contribute to a sustainable future. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 135,000 employees.

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