Personally, and this is a layman’s point of view, I think the trade and technology wars between the US and China will be won in the developing nations. Washington can pull all the stunts they want over at the Oval Office, but the consequences will be largely limited to America and its allies mostly in Europe.
Africa, the Middle East, and to some extent South America are open markets. Where the mantra is ‘we are open for business to anyone with the best deal’. Sure, American companies such as Google and Microsoft were the first to plant the ‘US flags’ across the world, on the general consumer and electronic gadgets front. But on their own, their devices are damn expensive.
Android smartphones and Windows PCs are all over the world because China produces the devices they run on at pocket-friendly prizes. That is to say, you can get all variants of smartphones and PCs coming from China at affordable prices.
The same devices coming out of, say America or Europe would be too expensive. They probably won’t be everywhere across the world, like we see with these ‘Made in China’ devices. It is little wonder why even brands that scream out ‘U.S.A’ such as MacBooks, iPads, and iPhone are produced in China.
Last Friday, the AU was like, ‘Trump banned a Chinese ICT company yeah…yeah, but Huawei, when are you delivering our 5G network, IoT, and cloud storage infrastructure?’
In the two decades Huawei has been operating in Africa, it claims almost 70% of the current 4G networks across the continent. China (not Huawei) also built the AU complex in Ethiopia for free; more like a donation.
After the establishment of the AU complex by China in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The AU signed an MoU with Huawei in 2015 for the supply and installation of ICT infrastructure for the organization.
More recently, there were allegations that Beijing is using backdoors implanted on the Huawei infrastructure to listen in on AU delegates conversation on the China-built complex. This allegation was met with counter allegations, time went by, and Huawei later came to deny having set up the intranet or extranet being used at the AU complex. Though they were responsible for the laying down of the ICT infrastructure at the building.
Now those spying allegations seem to be water under the bridge. Since the AU and Huawei on Friday came out announcing a new MoU, that will see the organization roll out the 5G network, Internet of Things, cloud storage among other ICT service powered by the Huawei infrastructure.
Huawei is now the third biggest smartphone brand across Africa, following Samsung in second place, and Transsion in first. Using a blend of pricing, brand marketing, customer service, and the vision of bridging the digital gap between developing and industrialized nations.
Most countries in Africa, like their counterparts in other developing nations, are fueling the division that was once described by ex-Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, as the Chinese-led and US-led internets. Africa is at a crossroad; on one side there is the American and European ICT services, while on the other side is the China ICT services.
My money would be on the Chinese side, given they are flexible with their pricing. Though they don’t win confidence when it comes to matters cybersecurity and privacy. For now, though, the AU is aboard the Chinese ship.
“Under this agreement, we are pleased to consolidate our existing partnership with Huawei, a leading group in the fields of innovation and technological research,” said Thomas Kwesi Quartey, the deputy chairman of the AU. “It is essential that we work closely with our partners to meet the digital transformation challenges of Africa.”
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