By Nnamdi Odumody
The ongoing U.S China Trade War which has led to uncertainty in the global consumer market took a new dimension with the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Chinese technology giant Huawei in Canada on charges of financial irregularities. The U.S government in it’s bid to checkmate China’s technology brands like Huawei from taking control in key emerging technologies like 5G where Huawei has released the first 5G chip and will soon release 5G phones is responding to threat of the Middle Kingdom which is challenging her domination on the global technology space.
Canada which along with the UK, Australia, U.S and New Zealand belong to the Five Eyes Intelligence Network and have accused Huawei of using their networks and communication devices to spy on them for the Chinese Government due to the fact that Ren Zhengfei it’s founder was a former officer in the Chinese Armed Forces. Huawei’s rise to second position in global smartphone sales behind Samsung and dethroning U.S tech giant Apple to third position is a thing of concern and her growth is fuelled by sales in emerging markets like Africa and Iran which is under American sanctions.
Chinese technology brands have taken advantage of The Belt and Road Initiative which President Xi Jiping of China launched in 2013 to create a new economic belt between China and emerging markets as an alternative to the U.S led Organization For Economic Cooperation and Development which was in favor of the developed Western markets.
Transsion Holdings, a Shenzhen based telecommunications equipment maker is the market leader in the African smartphone market. With African centred design of it’s gadgets and pricing targeted at Africa’s middle class, it has beaten Samsung and Nokia which were former market leaders. It’s Tecno range of smartphones sold 80 million units in Africa in 2016 while it’s other brand sold 50 million devices in Africa in the same year.
Huawei Technologies besides it’s smartphone sales in Africa has developed Smart City Technologies which are targeted at African markets as the continent seeks to adopt smart technologies which will accelerate her digital transformation and solve her problems. Oppo, another Chinese telecommunications equipment brand which is fourth in global smartphones which are targeted towards Chinese and emerging market consumers recently showcased the world’s first 5G video call.
Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi, Tecno, Infinix launched smartphones which had artificial intelligence features into the African markets in 2018 and witnessed massive sales from African consumers than the elite brands Samsung and Apple. Alibaba which has helped to promote trade between China and Africa through her platform founder Jack Ma recently at the 2019 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos with African Union and Rwandan President Paul Kagame said the E-Commerce giant will invest more money to boost E-Commerce in Africa and her Ant Financial which is the world’s most valuable Financial Technology company at $148billion is looking at expanding her services on the motherland.
Tencent, the Chinese technology and media giant which owns Wechat wants to take advantage of the Chinese diaspora in Africa and Africans who will be interested in utilizing the platform for interactions with Chinese trade partners as well as play in the financial services sector.
As a developing economy just like Africa, China understands that the key to market dominance and success is to offer products and services which are African centered as well as the best customer experience and are price friendly. This is one area which Apple has failed to exploit in the world’s second largest continent.