5G Roll-Out: Huawei Turning Attention to Africa as Its Western Apathy Grows

5G Roll-Out: Huawei Turning Attention to Africa as Its Western Apathy Grows

The recent approval of 5G trialing came to a successful end and birthed hope of future where internet services thrive on the fastest speed in Nigeria.

The Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy has been on its toes in providing modalities needed to foster a 5G future in the country. But the interest appears to be attracting tech companies as Huawei promised to provide MTN with the needed support for the 5G-roll out.

The company assured MTN that it would provide advanced and innovative support that will enable efficient roll out of 5G services Nigeria.

Speaking in Abuja, earlier this week, Managing Director of Huawei Technologies Company, Mr. Zhang Lulu, said the company will supply MTN with the innovation that will offer customers the best experience.

Huawei has been at the forefront of 5G roll-out globally, and wishes to offer the technology behind it to MTN, especially as they are in partnership. This is coming at a time when there is global quest to establish 5G network as a faster alternative to 4G and 3G networks.

Since Huawei’s ouster in the U.S market, following a dispute with the government, the company has been looking for ways to expand its lead role in 5G roll-out, seeking partnership with telcos in Europe and Africa.

In Europe, the company has been noted to lobby its way far above its counterparts and competitors for 5G services, Ericsson and Nokia. Not wanting to limit itself to Asian markets only, Huawei has cashed in on the recently launched #Votefor5G campaign, strategizing methods to win the approval of European MEPs for a prominent position in the continent’s 5G roll-out.

Transparency reported that Huawei has had 42 meetings, 10 of which specifically mentioned the deployment of 5G technologies. This represents 24% of all 5G related meetings declared, a share that puts it in the top three together with Qualcomm, an American manufacturer of 5G chips for mobile phones and the 5G automotive association, a large consortium of companies seeking to market self-driving vehicles. Ericsson is reportedly having only 9.5% of its high-level meetings on 5G while Nokia has only 6%.

However, a politically inspired controversy keeps following Huawei wherever it goes in the West. In December last year, a Huawei executive was arrested in Poland on charges of spying for China, though the company insisted it has nothing to do with its operations, the development only heightened an already intense suspicion about Huawei’s activities in Europe.

The consequence of being an independent enterprise of Chinese origin is that you never really have to be treated as one in the West, because everything in China is under the control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Martin Thorley, an expert on international engagement with China at the University of Nottingham explains it this way:

“Imagine if the Conservative party in the UK controlled the army, the judiciary, all newspapers, the police force, major companies, and all universities. It would be a very different country.

“Huawei is part of this network and subject to these forces, so the question is whether a company ultimately subject to the whim of the CCP should be involved in sensitive security projects abroad. Some may argue that it should but they need to understand that when called upon Huawei must do as the part says.”

Gradually, countries and companies are keeping their distance from Huawei. Vodafone was among the first in the UK to cut every tie with the Chinese company. Huawei has also been barred from supplying next-generation 5G equipment, the technology that will connect to the Internet of Things (IoT) to Australia and New Zealand.

It is through this path filled with politically-charged hurdles that Huawei struggles to exert a leadership role in 5G roll-out across the world. But it seems to be weighing its options, and Africa is becoming a destination of interest because of China’s influence in Africa or seeming less-government interest in its activities. Therefore, Huawei’s only obstacle in Africa will be lack of governments’ will to push 5G trials.

So in African countries where 5G has been trialed and approved, technical innovations needed to implement the roll-out become a barrier, but an opportunity for Huawei to get in the way.

From 5G network equipment to devices, African countries have little options than to accept excitedly, anything that Huawei has to offer. MTN is the first in Nigeria; many more operators in the telecom industry will join the list in no time.

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