Dubai: In his opening keynote at the SAMENA Leaders’ Summit, where the leading telecom and ICT leaders in the region gathered, Steven Yi, President of Huawei Middle East and Central Asia, addressed the audience with futuristic but also pragmatic ICT industry viewpoint, reflecting on the company sustainable approach – Thriving Digital Economy Depends on Sustainable Connectivity. He reiterated that the Gulf countries continue to lead the global 5G deployment and commercialization and offer a fertile environment for the development of 5.5G.Steven said: “It is widely acknowledged that the digital economy plays a pivotal role in driving global economic growth. AI as the key technology, will help to build an intelligent world and boost digital economic progress. The rapid rise of AI technology has significantly increased computing power demand. To train and increase accuracy, AI systems need large volumes of data, which must be transmitted rapidly, processed efficiently, and stored safely.”It is estimated that by 2030, the thriving digital economy could be worth 30 trillion dollars. Huawei believes that sustainable digital economic growth will be based on three powers, the transmission power that can support over 200 billion global connections, the computing power that can meet 500 times increased AI computing demands, and the storage power that can store an impressive 1 Yottabyte (a quadrillion Gigabytes) of data yearly. He stressed that building these three powers involves continuous investment in connectivity infrastructure, green deployment and local digital talents. “Today's connected world demands network connectivity investment. These networks are essential in connecting people with people, people with things, things with things, and transmitting data rapidly and accurately. Advanced connectivity infrastructure can bridge the digital divide and unlock digital economy benefits,” Steven added.He highlighted that 5G is a prime example of a connectivity technology that can deliver significant social, industrial, economic, and sustainability benefits. There are already 17 commercial 5G networks within the Middle East region, and coverage reaches 45 million population. He stressed that while GCC countries led the global 5G deployment wave, it is essential to continue evolving connectivity infrastructure, adopting the latest technologies in the 5.5G era, enabling 10Giga bits per second speed everywhere, supporting all scenario IoT, and integrating sensing communication. Continuous evolution to the 5.5G era is the way to ensure that the infrastructure will meet demands for a more immersive experience and unleash the potential powers for sustainable digital economic growth.He highlighted that 5G/5.5G as the crucial ICT connectivity technology can create tangible values toward a digital economy represented in many key outcomes such as reaching the top rate in internet access for more social benefits, contributing to GDP, driving better economic growth and adding new potentials to sustainability approach and energy saving through 5G networks.“A sustainable digital economy will require more than connectivity. Green ICT solutions must also be prioritized. We must consider the environmental impact as we embrace technology and extend digital networks. We can protect the environment and preserve the digital economy by incorporating eco-friendly and energy-efficient ICT infrastructure. Furthermore, ICT will also boost industry-wide green practices,” Steven added. It is estimated that adapting ICT-enabled digital solutions will help reduce 20% of global carbon emissions by 2030.He further elaborated that a sustainable digital economy demands a large pool of local talents that is proficient in the latest technologies and able to adapt to new developments quickly. Governments and businesses must continue to invest in training and education programs to ensure that workers have the skills they need to succeed in the digital economy, he explained.Huawei has a long and proud history of collaboration with governments, academia and industry to enrich the region's ICT talent ecosystem. CSR initiatives such as Seeds for the Future, the annual Huawei ICT Competition, Huawei ICT Academy, joint innovation centers, labs and other CSR initiatives empower thousands of Arab youth annually to supercharge their ICT careers. In the Middle East, Huawei has set up 186 Huawei ICT Academies, and more than 4,000 students have participated in the flagship program Seeds for the Future, while over 57,000 people have obtained Huawei certification. We also have trained over 150,000 ICT talents for the Middle East and are committed to achieving more in collaboration with our partners.“Over the last decades, we have put a lot of effort into creating social values for each country by creating hundreds and thousands of job opportunities for the local people, actively working with local partners, and cultivating over 100,000 local ICT talents through our different training certification programs. We will continue working with our partners to bring pioneering new technologies to the region that will enrich people's lives with immersive digital services and enable smart solutions to accelerate the industry’s digital transformation and related social value,” said Steven.Huawei’s training and certification programs serve as a major source of high-quality talent for industry digitalization. By the end of 2022, the global ICT leader had established Huawei ICT Academies with more than 2,200 universities across the globe. Through this program, the company trains an average of more than 200,000 students each year. Furthermore, the Huawei ICT Competition provides an international platform through which university students from around the world can compete and share ideas with each other. The sixth Huawei ICT Competition, held in 2022, attracted 150,000 university students from 85 countries and regions. This month, finalists’ teams from seven countries in the region will be in China to compete on a global level with their peers from other countries in Huawei Global ICT Competition. “We look forward to inspiring more interest and engagement in our ICT talent cultivation programs and initiatives in the region to support the local governments in their strategies and visions on digital transformation and ICT talent ecosystem,” he added.“In 2023, we will continue to maintain strategic focus and strengthen R&D investment. We will focus on creating greater value for our customers, partners, and society. Huawei remains open to collaboration and is always looking to join hands with outstanding researchers, developers, innovators and partners from around the world to address the biggest challenges of our times,” stated Steven.Steven described SAMENA Leaders’ Summit as an enlightening and insightful conference as it focuses on crucial pillars of economic development, including sustainable connectivity, ecosystems, and the digital economy. Reiterating the importance of connectivity, he closed his keynote with a popular Chinese saying, ‘If you want to get rich, build roads first’. “Building a strong connectivity infrastructure is critical to the growth of the digital economy. Just as roads and bridges are essential to the physical economy, a robust connectivity infrastructure is the foundation upon which the digital economy is built,” Steven concluded.Huawei’s recent annual report demonstrated that the company continues to strengthen investment in R&D, with an annual expenditure of USD23.22 billion in 2022, representing 25.1% of the company's annual revenue and bringing its total R&D expenditure over the past 10 years to more than USD 140.55 billion.