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Huawei, hits the jackpot in Africa

By Saïd Aït-Hatrit
Posted on Wednesday, 12 June 2013 10:47

After registering a $3.4bn turnover in 2011, Huawei’s near omni-presence on the continent with its 2G, 3G, or even its 4G networks in Namibia and Angola is being felt.

The group has signed a $750 million contract to improve Globacom’s network in Nigeria where it could become a major operator after a recent $627 million investment in cash-strapped Nitel.

Huawei also has its eyes set on Ethiopia and Libya, where it completed its installation of the Silphium undersea cable in January.

The quality of its implementation, its competitive rates and its credit line make the Chinese telecoms giant a force to reckon with, especially among its competitors: Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and ZTE, another Chinese company.

Huawei got a $30bn credit boost from China Development Bank in 2012.

The manifold complaints of its after-sales services during the early 2000s in Kenya have not been a stumbling block to its continued presence in the East African country.

And in a move to prove its commitment to the continent since its arrival in 1999, Huawei has opened training centres in seven African countries, a research and development centre in Johannesburg and a network operations centre in Cairo, in November 2012. This is to best monitor its infrastructure in Africa.

“Even if they mostly work on low-cost basis, they catch up in the area of maintenance”, says BearingPoint analyst, Jean-Michel Huet.

Huawei is hoping to benefit from the growth of smart phone market, which also means a higher demand for data.

Its first call centre was opened in March in Johannesburg.

Li Dafeng, head of Huawei’s East and Southern Africa regions argues that the group has “improved” its “B2B to B2C profile” and it is important that they “develop the necessary client service channels”.

In 2011, it launched its Ideos smartphone line. And at the beginning of 2013, in collaboration with Microsoft, Huawei4Afrika, made for Africa by Africans, was also launched.

The two models “were very successful on the Kenyan market, while South African consumers preferred our mid-range tablets and smartphones” continued Li Dafeng.

He said the group supplied 6 million telephones and 500,000 smart phones to the East and Southern African markets last year alone.

“With these low-cost devices, Huawei is sending a message to its partners that its network will be amply utilised” says Daryl Schoolar, an analyst at Ovum.