Banning Huawei may jeopardize Africa’s digital future

By Li Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/10 22:08:41

A ban on buying telecoms equipment from Chinese firms would add about $62 billion to the cost of 5G networks in Europe, according to a Reuters report. For the US and European countries, launching a technological cold war and blacklisting Huawei may only hurt profits, but for Africa, such a move may impoverish the continent for a much longer time.

Under the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, China and Africa are aiming at reciprocal cooperation mainly focused on connectivity and infrastructure development in Africa. The private sector is one of the most important forces of China's investment in Africa. But if Huawei, one of China's most outstanding private enterprises, is banned in Africa as the US deploys various means to force more countries to stop using Huawei, the continent's development will be seriously damaged.

Many Made-in-China products, especially Huawei devices, have benefited African infrastructure construction and improved the living standards of the people on the continent. Huawei offers the world fast, cheap and convenient internet access and its devices are widely welcomed in Africa despite US-hyped so-called security concerns.

For example, Huawei has built about 70 percent of the 4G networks and a lot of infrastructure projects in Africa. Huawei also announced in April the launch of a 5G network for the first time in Egypt during the African Cup of Nations, which will greatly contribute to the development of Egypt's digital economy.

Huawei did not force Africa to accept its devices, but proactively offered services that fit African people's needs. Huawei had been "a great partner for many years. We would like to stick with our partners as much as we can," said Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom, a leading communications company in Kenya.

However, the US and other Western countries failed to provide such convenience for Africa and are even preventing China from doing so. This is a very selfish act. According to Foreign Policy, Africa's internet penetration lags behind the global average at 35.2 percent. If Huawei is banned in Africa, the technological enterprises that emerged in Africa recently will be in great pain. This will affect the general development of Africa's high-tech industry.

More importantly, if Huawei is banned in Africa, African people will be deprived of their right to access the 5G network as soon as possible. The whole continent will be deprived of its opportunity to rid itself of backwardness. Is this what the Western elite want to see?

Based on historical friendship, China's cooperation with Africa will keep up with the pace of the times and profoundly benefit Africa. Africa has much untapped growth potential and China can help the continent release it rather than waste it. Huawei's activity in Africa is just one of China's many beneficial acts that will lead to a promising future for African countries. No country should intervene in such reciprocal cooperation.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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