Huawei pays attention to Africa to face US pressure

Huawei
File Reuters

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — As the United States strives to persuade the West to abandon Huawei to security concerns, China’s giant technology group has sought to strengthen its position in Africa, where it has been firmly established.

Huawei has taken a leading role in the development of fifth generation (5G) mobile networks around the world.

But it has been in a difficult situation since Washington announced that its equipment could be used to spy on Chinese intelligence.

The world’s second-largest smartphone maker denies the charges. But the United States has urged countries to avoid them, while several companies, including Google, which uses its Android operating system on most smartphones, have moved away.

As Washington and Beijing compete in the escalating trade war, the world’s nations face the dilemma of choosing between the world’s two largest economic powers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin entered the front line on Friday, citing what he saw as Washington’s attempts to “unseat Huawei from world markets informally.” Earlier in the week, Russian telecom giant MTS signed an agreement with Huawei to develop the country’s 5G network.

“China is ready to share technological inventions with all partners, especially +5G technology,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was Putin’s guest at an economic forum in St. Petersburg.

But will the escalating conflict force African countries to choose between China, the continent’s leading trading partner, and the United States?

“For African countries, this trade war could lead to a dual option,” said independent economist Ali Khan Satchu in Nairobi. “It will be very difficult for African countries to ignore it.”

– “bold strategy” –

Huawei, which has now become a major factor in US-China tensions, has sought to establish its presence in Africa. It signed an agreement last week to strengthen its cooperation with the African Union.

“This is a way to show that Huawei is still present in Africa and that they want to remain a key player by being in this important growth sector,” said Robin Nezard, an economist and sub-Saharan Africa specialist at Covas Financial Services.

The agreement comes after French newspaper Le Monde reported in 2018 that China had spied on the African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, quoting sources within the organization.

The report said spying began in 2012 after the construction of the headquarters of the new African Union funded by China was completed. But it was only when technical experts discovered that data on the Internet servers in the building were sent to Shanghai.

Both China and the African Union have rejected the charges.

Huawei has established its presence throughout Africa since it was launched in Kenya in 1998. It currently operates in 40 countries and provides 4G (4G) networks to more than half of the continent.

The 5G services, which are able to transmit data much more quickly in Egypt, will be presented during the African Nations Cup, which will take place from June 21 to July 19.

“Africa is a market that Huawei has spotted and invaded through its very bold strategy based on cheap financing and rapid implementation,” Saatchi told AFP.

“The fact that Huawei has equipped the African Union reflects everything.”

– “Sergeant Beijing” –

Huawei’s presence in Africa goes beyond the sale of smartphones and the establishment of mobile networks.

In South Africa, the group organizes training courses at major universities in the country, similar to a specialized course on 5G networks launched this year.

The Kenyan government signed an agreement worth 17.5 billion shillings ($ 172 million) with Huawei in April to set up a smart city information and services center.

The Chinese group also offers a surveillance program called “Safe City”.

According to Huawei, the initiative can “prevent crimes against ordinary citizens, tourists, students, the elderly and others before they occur.”

The program was used in Nairobi and Mauritius, where 4,000 “smart” surveillance cameras were deployed in 2,000 locations across the Indian Ocean island.

Some media in Mauritius denounced the surveillance system as “digital dictatorship” from Sergeant Beijing.

But Ghanaian security minister Albert Kan-Daba, for his part, confirmed that Huawei’s surveillance technology helped arrest criminals.

“When a crime is committed, we do miracles by cameras,” he said in a recording to promote the Chinese group.

Huawei Marine’s branch of the submarine cable company said it was helping to develop an important cable system with a length of 12,000 km connecting Africa and Asia.

With Huawei’s involvement in Africa so large, the continent may find it difficult to avoid becoming a casual victim of the US-China conflict.

“Africa is stuck in a trade war where it should not engage because it will not gain anything,” Nezard said.

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