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Huawei and South Africa Begin Broadband Initiative

South Africa’s Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) and Huawei South Africa have launched a joint broadband development initiative, with the aim of advancing the rollout of the country’s fibre networks and developing the digital economy. 

The partnership, which commenced last week, will initially focus on helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to build technical capacity, as well as boosting the country’s wider broadband development. 

The initiative’s launch comes after the DCDT earlier this month gave Huawei an advisory role in carrying out the BRICS ICT Development Agenda and Action Plan to promote ICT collaboration between BRICS members and the National Development Plan 2030, which aims to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality in South Africa by 2030. Here, Huawei will assist the country in planning digital economy policies, infrastructure development, and give businesses practical assistance in improving their technical capabilities, particularly as this relates to fibre technology. 

“We, as government, are committed in building a skilled SME sector that can advance the digital economy in our country, as well as servicing the continent. We want to position our country as Africa’s digital hub,” said DCDT minister Mondli Gungubele. 

“We see a strategic role that SMEs can play in growing the GDP. SMEs are fundamental enablers of the digital economy.” 

In reference to a World Bank Report, Huawei South Africa’s CEO Will Meng noted that each 10% increase in fibre broadband penetration will increase the country’s GDP by 1.5%.  

“To meet the strong demands of the digital economy, we need to accelerate the development of fibre broadband in South Africa, raise public and industry awareness of the value and importance of fibre broadband development, and encourage industry partners to invest more in fibre broadband,” said Meng. 

“Our broadband development initiative will help us move towards a gigabit society in South Africa. Fibre broadband will improve social connectivity, promote industrial transformation and enable the digital economy.” 

The cooperation will also explore other key areas such as growing the digital economy, industrial digitalisation, the cloud, telecoms talent development. 

The initiative marks the latest tie up between China’s Huawei and South Africa at a time when relations between the two are under the international spotlight. 

Earlier this month, South African ambassador Anil Sooklal noted that the country was under “tremendous pressure” from the US to ban Huawei from its national networks, with US claiming the Chinese company represents a major security risk.  

Despite this, South Africa continues to deepen its economic relationship with Huawei and with China – and it is not alone. Last week, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – the so-called BRICS geopolitical group – announced they would admit six new countries to the group:  Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Argentina, the UAE, and Ethiopia. 

While the expansion of the BRICS group appears to have little immediate economic or political ramifications, it does hint at international discontent with the existing world order. 

Source: Total Telecom