GOVERNMENT

The Huawei Drama: Africa holds on as the US ejection plays out

Huawei has gone into the bad records of America and indeed a host of other western countries, but it seems not the case for Africa. The African Union has just signed a three-year memorandum with the Chinese telecommunications company to improve the technical expertise of the Union and to cooperate on key issues related to information and communication technologies.

US President took his trade war with China to a whole new level by placing a ban on Huawei, stopping Americans from purchasing its equipment and limiting its global reach as well. Trump accused the company of stealing trade secrets and violating US sanctions against Iran.

But the case is different in Africa, at least at the moment. Since it began operations in Kenya in 1998, the company has rapidly expanded.

As part of the agreement, Huawei will partner with the continental body to strengthen sectors including internet of things, cloud computing, broadband, rolling out 5G networks, and artificial intelligence.

The initiative will also train young people in tech skills, and offer AU departments support in dealing with cybersecurity, as well as digital health and education.

The deal follows a 2015 MOU which focused on improving the union’s technological capabilities, including by organizing annual tours to Huawei’s training centers in China.

Huawei has also reportedly built about 70% of Africa’s 4G networks, vastly outpacing competitors in the demand not just for internet but for improved and faster connectivity.

Despite no such sanctions on Huawei in Africa, the future remains uncertain for the telecom giant. Google could cut Huawei phones from accessing the Android OS after the Aug. 19 grace period. If this happens, users won’t be able use popular apps such as Gmail and Google Maps.

To add to that, they could also lose access to the world’s most widely used operating system. But Huawei has built its own OS as a backup option.

We are here for this drama. Next episode to come soon.

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