Building more connectivity in Africa
With the roll-out of 5G networks and other new technologies, global companies such as Huawei would continue playing a key role in information and communications technology (ICT) services, said African ICT experts.
“It’s very critical to have companies like Huawei in providing services in South Africa and across Africa, as we don’t have some home-grown technologies that can roll out services as quickly, efficiently and powerfully as global players,” said Arthur Goldstuck, an ICT expert at World Wide Worx, a technology market research company in South Africa.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa backed Chinese technology giant Huawei on Friday, 5 July, 2019, at the 4IRSA digital economy summit in Johannesburg, where he outlined his government’s strategy to unlock economic opportunities in the digital era.
“This standoff between China and the US where the technology company Huawei is being used as victim because of its successes is an example of protectionism that will affect our own telecommunications sector, particularly the efforts to roll out the 5G network, causing a setback on other networks as well.” he said.
In response to Cyril Ramaphosa’s statement, Huawei South Africa said it is encouraged to continue to support the needs of South African Telcos and ICT partners, especially as they continue to bring better services and experience to their customers and gear up to deploy the next-generation mobile network.
President Ramaphosa is not the only African leader to publicly back Huawei. Last month, Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo stated that Nigeria welcomed Huawei to do business there.
“We practically welcome every company that wants to do business with us in Nigeria. Huawei is in Nigeria and so are all the other technology companies.”
In May this year, this year the African Union and Huawei signed a three-year memorandum of understanding for Huawei to improve the technical expertise of the AU and to cooperate on key issues related to information and communication technologies.
As part of the agreement, Huawei will partner with the continental body to strengthen ICT solutions including, the internet of things, cloud computing, broadband, rolling out 5G and artificial intelligence.
More than 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have this year stated the willingness to work with Huawei in strengthening ICT infrastructure and bringing more connectivity to the region.
This is in line with countries in Europe and Asia who have decided to partner with Huawei to commercially roll out 5G.
French President Emmanuel Macron last month poured cold water on the idea of implementing protectionist measures focused on the company, saying “There is no over-protectionism vis-a-vis any of the big global tech (firms) because we need them to fertilize our ecosystem, we want to be stronger and stronger and create maximum jobs.”
A recent industry analysis by GSMA, which represents the interests of 750 mobile operators, shows that a ban on buying telecoms equipment from Chinese firms would add about 55 billion euros ($62 billion) to the cost of 5G networks in Europe and delay the technology by about 18 months.
Huawei wins 5G contracts
In June, Huawei said its equipment was behind two-thirds of the commercially launched 5G networks outside China.
Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai last month, Ryan Ding, president of Huawei’s carrier business group, announced Huawei had nabbed 50 commercial 5G contracts outside its home base from countries including South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Finland. He said that the Shenzhen-based firm had shipped more than 150,000 base stations.
This includes South Africa’s mobile data-only network operator, Rain.
Leading 5G vendors
Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia have emerged as the top 3 global 5G RAN vendors according to a report by Strategy Analytics, a global technology and media analyst agency.
The report titled “Comparison and 2023 5G Global Market Potential for leading 5G RAN Vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia”, ranks Huawei as the leader in terms of equipment performance, portfolio of radio access network products, contribution to industry standards, R&D investment, and delivery capabilities.
The report shows the three global vendors are leading in commercializing 5G, and compared with other vendors, Huawei’s 5G network is faster and lower latency.
According to IPlytics GmbH, Huawei is the No.1 in terms of the number of 5G Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), the number of 5G standards contributions and the number of employees attending 5G standard meetings. Ericsson and Nokia are also in the leading companies in these aspects.
Strategy Analytics’ reports also shows that all three leading ICT infrastructure vendors are ranked among the world’s top 50 companies for R&D investment according to The 2018 EU R&D Investment Scoreboard, with Huawei ranks 5. The report says Huawei has maintained steady growth in its R&D investment, which will have long term impacts on programs like 5G technology research and product development.