Mobile penetration in Africa reaches 81%: Huawei Business development head
Huawei Business development head said that the mobile penetration in Africa reaches 81%, in addition the 5G technology needs three years to get started in the region.
Amwal Al Ghad interviewed Derek Yung, Business development head at Huawei Middle East and Africa regarding the company’s volume of business and its new technology in the region while focusing on its presence in Egypt.
When asked about the company’s position in Africa, Yung said that Huawei entered into the African market in 1998, since then, they have worked with African customers to enable more African people to connect to high-quality telecommunications networks so that they can enjoy digital life equally.
Over the past two decades, they have focused on building a better connected Africa. Today, Huawei have deployed more than half of the wireless base stations in Africa, more than 70% LTE high-speed mobile broadband networks, and more than 50,000 km of optical fibers.
In addition Huawei has served 54 countries in Africa, with over 7,000 employees in Africa and 65% are local employees. Its seven technical training centers in Africa are distributed in Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Kenya, and Congo. They have transferred ICT knowledge and skills to more than 30,000 ICT experts. We have three innovation centers in Egypt, South Africa Nigeria to promote the development of local technologies. In addition, Huawei has established two regional network maintenance centers in Egypt and Nigeria, providing network operation services for all African countries and creating more than 1000 jobs.
On the other Hand,Yung was asked whether Huawei is considered a leader in the telecommunication industry in Africa. He answered saying that the company is an indisputable leader in this industry. This is the result of our long-term investment in R&D. In 2018, Huawei invested US$ 11.2 billion. Africa is also benefiting from these R&D investments. Huawei has developed an action plan – Tech4All. It will be carried out focuson connectivity, applications, and skills.
Huawei will continue to reduce costs and eliminate coverage barriers through technological innovation. The firm have developed innovative transmission and energy solutions for special rural base stations. They are small, easy to install, and can use solar power. This facilitates local deployment of wireless networks and reduces costs, as well as helps rural network operators to recover their investments more quickly.
This solution has been widely used in multiple countries in Africa, such as Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, and Congo. In terms of skills, Huawei will work with governments, local communities, and other industries to improve the digital skills of the whole society. Over the past decade, they have helped more than 30,000 students in more than 108 countries improve their digital skills. In the Northern Africa region, Huawei cooperated with the University of Cairo University, the University of Egypt, the University of INPT (Rabat), the University of USMBA (Phil), the IUC University of Cameroon, and the USTTB of the University of Bamako University of Mali. In 10+ countries, Huawei established the (HUAWEI ACADEMY) of Huawei ICT Academy, cultivated more than 1000+ Huawei certified ICT talent.
In recent years, Huawei ICT competition has provided a platform for ICT talent in Africa to communicate and compete with top ICT talent in the world. In 2018-2019, five countries (Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Ethiopia, and Senegal) participated in the competition.
Over the past five years, Huawei has provided more than 400 students in more than 15 countries in Northern Africa with opportunities to participate in ICT skills training in China. Huawei and (TIEC), a technical innovation and entrepreneurship center under the Ministry of Communications of Egypt, jointly planned the 4G application innovation contest and cooperated with the President’s “President Leadership” training team to provide ICT professional training for 500 “President Leadership” students every year.
He was also asked if Huawei has a plan to deploy 5G in Africa considering that 5G is a hot topic global wide.
Yung replied by saying that ” Now, some countries have begun to deploy trial, but the scale deployment should be after three years. The current mobile penetration rate in Africa is only 81%, 52% Africans do not have Internet access, and the MBB penetration rate is lower than 30%. Currently, the rate of LTE sites in Africa is only 37%. We all know that 5G deployment requires a 4G network as the basic data service network.
Therefore, the main tasks in Africa is to continuously increase coverage and user migration, so that more people can connect to the network and enjoy the convenience of digital services. We are also promoting the application of 5G network technologies to 4G networks to enable 4G users to experience higher internet speed. Huawei has a huge experience in this field. For example, 4T4R or Massive MIMO improves the existing spectrum efficiency, and CloudAIR and SuperBAND guarantee the ultimate experience of 4G users. These technologies will be widely used by Huawei.”
As to Which of the telecom operators cooperate with you most? he answered that ” We work with the global carriers: MTN, Orange and Vodafone, Moroccan Telecom, etc… and also national owned operators such as TE, TT etc. We have been working with them for more than a decade. The results of the cooperation we have now are based on long-term trust. But it was not easy at first. For example, in 1997, when Huawei came to Egypt, no one knew us. We overcame many difficulties before we got the first contract for Egypt Telecom’s fixed-line equipment.”
In addition Amwal Al Ghad asked the head Business development what is the special significance of broadband development for Africa?. He said that ICT is the engine of national economic development and the key to achieving leap-forward development in Africa. Broadband is the foundation of ICT and an enabler and accelerator for digital life. According to World Bank data, for every 10% increase in broadband penetration, GDP can increase by 1.3% and jobs can increase by 3%.
The broadband service development in Africa is far behind that in the world. The average penetration rate of broadband services in Africa has exceeded 50%, while that in Africa is only 13%. Download rate average of home broadband in developed areas has exceeded 50 Mbit/s, while that in Africa is less than 4 Mbit/s. Therefore, the bandwidth for home broadband in Africa need to be greatly improved regardless of the number of connections or bandwidth, the purpose of this forum is to build a platform to fully communicate with the world and find a way for the development of Africa’s home.
First is the country’s national broadband network strategy, Policies and funds are important part of broadband development based on the strategy. We also see that some operators in the world have been delaying the acquisition of power introduction in the construction process for half a year. Good policy and fund release at the national level are important drivers for the development of the national broadband network. To improve broadband services from enterprise behavior to national behavior, we need to guide broadband development policies and fund support directions at the country level.
Second is the broadband infrastructure construction eco-system, Large-scale broadband development involves the construction of end-to-end ecological chains such as network infrastructure, engineering construction, equipment, technical talent, and subcontractor capabilities. We also see that some operators are expanding their investment. Due to immature or excessive maturity of the ecological chain, broadband construction and business development are far from expected. Therefore, when promoting broadband development on a large scale, we should step by step to gradually establish and improve the end-to-end ecosystem of broadband services.
After years of continuous investment and development in the broadband field, China has a big experience in construction and operation. For example, in China, the broadband service has been installed and repaired on a daily basis. Although we have found that the broadband service provisioning and repair services in some areas of Africa have been recovered for two weeks, even in four months, the average broadband representative in China has increased from about 6Mbps in 2012 to over 90Mbps, but the average bandwidth in Africa is lower than 4 Mbit/s. The broadband home penetration rate in China has reached nearly 90%, but the broadband home penetration rate in Africa is generally lower than 30%, we are committed to copying the experiences of China’s broadband development to Africa. We introduced the former VP of China Telecom Sichuan to Africa to provide broadband development consulting services for carriers. In addition, we introduced the end-to-end capabilities of China Telecom from planning and design, construction management, engineering supervision, installation and maintenance schools, and marketing showcases to Africa, the aim is to support the prosperity and development of the African broadband industry and enrich the living standards of the African people.
He also commented on the cloud service development in Africa that the company is very confident about the development of these services, which is the future of digital transformation. In Morocco, we developed cloud computing services with a local carrier. Currently, Huawei rely on partners’ data centers. Also the company is considering deploying its own cloud services in the region.
Regarding Huawei’s development in Africa for the next five year, the company will continue to invest heavily in R&D to maintain our competitive edge and meet our customers. He added that Technology should not be high in the ivory tower, but to the world, we are committed to bridging the digital divide, technology to be good, relay far. We firmly believe that digital technology will benefit everyone, every family, and every organization.
When asked to assess Egypt’s ICT sector, he said that ICT sector plays an important role in Egypt’s economy and is considered as one of the most important and fastest growing sectors contributing to the development of other various sectors. During the last financial year, it witnessed a growth rate of 16.2%, contributing by 3.5% to the GDP, providing 320,000 job opportunities. The CIT sector witnessed a growth rate of 16.4% during the 2nd quarter of the fiscal year 2018/2019, the highest among the entire Egyptian economy sector. The sector’s contribution to GDP reached 8%.
This vital sector in Egypt holds many opportunities and advantages, making it an ideal place to attract international investment. The state also is doing big efforts to develop this sector and train distinguished Egyptian calibers working in this field.
As for the difficulties which are faced by the sector, despite the efforts exerted by the Egyptian government, the Egyptian ICT Sector continues to face many challenges and we’ve seen an urgent need to focus on them from which are developing the capabilities of working calibers within the sector, and working on the integration of the Egyptian telecommunications sector with global infrastructure.
In addition, Egypt is considered as one of the most important and strategic markets for Huawei. The advantages that Egypt possesses, has made the company choose it as a starting point for all countries in the region which reflects its confidence in the Egyptian investment sector which has unique potentials.
That’s why Huawei affirms its commitment to contributing to sustainable economic and social development which goes aligned with the state’s efforts to turn Egypt into a regional hub to provide services for the whole region.