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Huawei reassures Africa’s cloud market as it deals with US strife

Stone He, President, Huawei  Cloud  Business Southern Africa.
Stone He, President, Huawei Cloud Business Southern Africa.

While Huawei acknowledges the impact that its ongoing impasse with the United States has had on its tech supply chain, the Chinese multinational has announced a ‘Plan B’ in the form of a self-developed solution manufacturing, operating system and supply ecosystem to support its main focus area: Huawei Cloud Services platform and roll out in key markets in Africa, with South Africa as a central base.

Regions like Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa have been earmarked for further R&D and infrastructure development.

In a virtual presentation to media, Stone He, President, Huawei Cloud Business Southern Africa, said despite the US having imposed sanctions in 2019 and 2020, forcing Huawei’s global partners to halt supply, in the 2019/2020 financial year, it generated global revenue of US$136-million.

Huawei’s business performance was largely in line with forecast. Huawei's sales revenue in 2020 rounded off at CNY891.4-billion, up 3.8% year-on-year, and its net profit reached CNY64.6-billion, up 3.2% year-on-year.

As reported by ITWeb in February this year, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei called on the new US administration to come up with more open policies that are in the interests of US companies and the US economy as a whole.

The company is playing a key role in the deployment of 5G networks in regions like Africa.

Unlikely change

However, this pressure from the US - and complications between US and China - is unlikely to change going forward said He, and has fuelled the company’s efforts to rely on its own ecosystem to ensure service delivery to partners.

“We have our own Plan B, we have our own supply chain, we don’t need to purchase from America. In the past two years, we didn’t lose a single customer because Huawei couldn’t supply equipment and services. In Africa, we didn’t lose anyone.”

While its traditional carrier, enterprise and consumer business silos remain pivotal, it has identified cloud services as central to its sustainability going forward.

Huawei said to date, globally, it has invested in public cloud infrastructure across 23 regions.

Since its launch in SA in February 2019 the company now has four points of presence in Africa, two in South Africa, one in Nigeria and one in Kenya.

“South Africa is quite important land-shift for our global cloud roadmap,” added He.

This roadmap for the next ten to twenty years, He continued, underpinned by the construction of its own chief site, own Operating System and its own database.

Huawei Cloud is an important responsibility and without it, the company will not be able to continue.

“We will look to increase the number of these datacentres as the demand for cloud services grows. We currently serve customers in 12 countries, with plans to grow rapidly as the need arises. We have seen an increased move to the cloud due to the COVID-19 pandemic impact,” said He.

In South Africa, during 2020, Huawei said it has seen great business growth in public cloud and hybrid cloud with significant investments from the public and finance sectors as well as from the telecommunication industry.

“We are also proud of our three-fold increase in our customer base and our registered South Africa partners have doubled. We predict these numbers to grow substantially over the next few months, and we see South Africa becoming a cloud hub for the continent,” said He.

Public cloud adoption

According to a recent IDC cloud report, despite the increased adoption of public cloud services in South Africa, many organisations still face several challenges. These challenges range from a lack of good solution providers to cloud migration difficulties.

“With better solutions for these issues, I believe the South African cloud market will be one of the biggest. The fourth industrial revolution featuring intelligent technology is coming. New technologies will be integrated into all aspects of our lives. It is our belief that cloud based technology will promote sustainable development and become a new driver for economic growth,” said He.

“Our success lies in the success of our partners. As we embark on the road to digital transformation in SA, our global experience allows us to leverage best practices to ensure their return of investment is achieved quickly and at an optimal rate.”

Huawei Cloud SA will also invest heavily in cloud training and marketing support for its partners. Training is also being offered to consumers, tertiary students and SMME entrepreneurs.

Last week Huawei announced that it had restructured its Cloud & AI Business Group, separating the hardware and software divisions, with a focus on strengthening software engineering capabilities.

The separated Cloud Business Unit will now focus on providing services at both global and local levels.

“As an indispensable and important market for Huawei, South Africa has also established a regional Cloud BU. We have recruited an experienced team including cloud architecture experts, cloud service experts, and cloud solution experts so that we can continue to serve South African customers and promote digital transformation in South Africa,” concluded He. 

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