Officials, including ZTE Corporation South Africa CEO Jerry Zhou, Wits University Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Habib, and China's ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian at an event where the company donated more than R1 million for Wits University bursary students. Photo: Supplied
The University of the Witwatersrand received more than R1million worth of bursaries from the ZTE Corporation for its information and communications technology (ICT) faculty.

The money handover by the South African-based Chinese company was held at the university’s Solomon Mahlangu House on Friday.

It follows the recent launch of a free 5G training course for ICT postgraduates at the university by Huawei SA, aimed at growing and supporting ICT skills training and skills transfer in South Africa.

Wits vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib said the institution’s partnership with China was not solitary but spread worldwide.

“You (China) are not only providing us with support, but pioneering a partnership that brings together different parts of the human community. It is important that as a global community we come together,” said Habib.

ZTE expressed its interest to partner with the university and said it chose to contribute to Wits not only because of its being at the top in academics in the country, but that it was a remarkable contributor to the economy.

“We therefore wanted to help 15 deserving students further their studies. IT and telecoms professionals are extremely scarce.

"As part of our corporate responsibility, we wish to participate in the vision of South Africa’s youth which is preparing them for future jobs, and we believe that through the contribution we will see and make this change a reality,” ZTE SA chief executive Jerry Zhou said.

Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said: “We believe that this is the start of a relationship that could lead to further collaboration.

“These bursaries will benefit undergraduate students in information systems and computer science.

"The support will help address the funding gap for students in the 'missing middle' and allow these students to continue with their studies without having to worry about funding,” said Patel.

Said 24-year-old ICT honours student Nontsikelelo Harmse: "I am honoured to have been chosen as a deserving student.

"It takes away the financial burden. I will be able to focus on my studies than stressing about fees,” Harmse added.

China’s ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian said he was impressed by the seven-year partnership between China and South Africa.

He said that this year China would host primary, high school, university principals and student leaders from South Africa in China.