Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has spread rapidly across the African continent and plan to exploit the continent more.
Undaunted by the economic slowdown at home in China, Huawei plans to build out more national broadband networks and put more smartphones in people’s hands across the region.Huawei employs about 10,000 people across its Africa operations, with an emphasis on local hires. It has also established several training centres in South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia and Angola among others, focused on technology development.The company’s influence on connectivity in Africa is already substantial. The region now has the fastest growing rate of mobile subscriptions in the world.
“I’m very positive about our current business growth and future prospects in Africa,” Jimin Pang, vice president of global government affairs at Huawei, tells This is Africa on the sidelines of a conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.This is not a new approach but rather an affirmation of a strategy that has allowed the company to expand rapidly in the region. “Of the several dozen available commercial 4G networks in Africa, more than 70 percent are built by Huawei,” Mr Pang says.
According to a German academic study profiling Huawei’s global reach, “Africa’s mobile technology progression would not [be] as far as it is now without Huawei and its cheaper products”.That reach is set to expand. Huawei is currently in talks with the Egyptian government to implement fibre optic networks in Egypt’s controversial new proposed capital city, which will be built 28 miles east of Cairo, the current capital.A deal to install networks around the newly revamped Suez Canal and its attendant industrial zones is also in the works. Mr Pang met with Egypt’s prime minister Sherif Ismail in February to outline an agreement.Also in February, Huawei signed a deal to develop Nigeria’s high speed 4G network with Intercellular. The Nigerian subsidiary of Sudatel has played a key role in the rapid proliferation of the mobile customer base of 117 million in Africa’s top oil producer and largest economy. Now Huawei plans to expand that further.
For Mr Pang, building out broadband capacity is as fundamental to improving the business environment in Africa as better roads. “By increasing broadband penetration, Huawei directly contributes to creating better business opportunities for start-ups and companies all over Africa,” he says.He points to South Africa as a recent example where Huawei helped to set up the national broadband network. He says the company wants to bring “connectivity to both cities and rural areas” in the country.Huawei has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the African Telecommunication Union in a bid to boost literacy through digital solutions, a deal likely to cement its leadership in mobile education ahead of competitor ZTE, another Chinese multinational.