Late last month, the world woke up to the news that the U.S. has nuked China by arm twisting Google into stopping Huawei from using its (Google’s) proprietary software on their devices. More on that here.
On the surface, one may be quick to call out the Trump administration trade wars against China, give Huawei is undoubtedly in the lead in the race for 5G network deployment across the world. The Chinese telecommunication giant has also ousted Apple (a U.S. company) from the second position in global smartphone vendor.
So it won’t be out of place for one to think the Trump administration is simply on its MAGA campaign in interfering with the market just to give American companies the upper hand. However, before you conclude that, you might want to look at a set of evidence put forth by the PhoneRadar summing up all the allegation U.S. lawmakers have put forth against Huawei:
When Huawei was caught with hands in the cookie jar
PhoneRadar say Huawei has been caught with its hands deep inside the cookie-jar as early as the 2000s when hackers from China cracked their way into obtaining the passwords of Nortel’s top executives. They then went ahead to steal proprietary IP of Nortel, which coincidentally Huawei later began producing the same services at a much lower price. Thereby pushing Nortel out of business. More on that here.
Cisco too alleged that Huawei infringed on its IP copyrights and further claimed they stole the source code off its (Huawei’s) routers used by the company. The matter ended up in a lawsuit that was settled outside the public domain, more on that here.
In 2007, the FBI found a Motorola employee with a bag containing $30,000 and documents detailing classified proprietary IP information. The FBI foiled plans by the employee to copy the Motorola wireless technology to be illegally sold by the employees to Huawei. The matter was again settled in confidentiality. More on that here.
A bit more recently, Vodafone came forth with allegations that it found backdoors in Huawei’s network equipment. Backdoors that could allow unauthorized remote access to the Vodafone network for fixed-line users. Vodafone based on that evidence decided to pause further deployment of Huawei infrastructure on its network. More details on that here.
With all that in mind, do you think the U.S. government and other governments around the world were too late in putting Huawei in check? No doubt the move to ban Huawei was a mistake, the only regret is that it was not done earlier.
So why is Africa still embracing Huawei?
While the rest of the world is calling out Huawei on its bad behavior, governments around Africa are embracing the government. Admittedly, most African countries are on the level where they lack even the basic ICT infrastructure. They are in fact on the first stage of laying down these infrastructures, and Huawei comes up with services and packages that are much more affordable.
However, soon there will come a time when the infrastructure is laid down, and the services are up and running. It will then be too late to secure the ICT network infrastructure given the very backbone of the system is built from the ground up by Huawei.
It is therefore prudent for lawmakers across Africa to demand transparency and world-standard cybersecurity measure from Huawei or any other companies laying down the ICT infrastructure.