Huawei and African Telecommunications Union to boost digital transformation

The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with tech giant, Huawei, that will see African countries and organisations build capacity for ICT transformation.

Under the agreement, Huawei will provide training on skills development, including reskilling and upskilling for ATU members.

A statement issued jointly by the two organisations said the MoU would also see the two collaborate to support local innovation, share information on latest trends, challenges and solutions in Africa and globally.

It was also to expand the digital economy as well as rural connectivity, on the continent, through research.

A 2019 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on digital economies established that Africa and Latin America, together, accounted for less than five per cent of the world's data centres.

The statement said if left unaddressed, the divides would worsen existing income inequalities.

It said that was part of the motivation for the Huawei-ATU partnership, coupled with the fact that in least developed countries (LDCs), only one in five people used the internet as compared with four out of five in developed countries.

Mr. John OMO, the Secretary-General of the ATU, praised Huawei for its contribution to Africa.

"Huawei has transformed connectivity and made a major contribution to the continent through its investments in digital infrastructure, ICT skills, environmentally-friendly connectivity solutions, and cutting-edge technologies for rural areas," he said.

Mr. OMO said the organisation was a trusted development partner of Africa and the MOU aimed at strengthening that partnership.

"Africa has a tremendous opportunity to fully grasp the potential from new technologies," Mr. OMO said.

He said the two organisations had a long history of working together and the new agreement would support African countries, regulators, and citizens to benefit from the transition to a digital economy, adopt new technologies, promote secure and resilient networks, and gain the digital skills necessary to drive their economies forward.

Mr. Samuel Chen, the Vice President at Huawei Southern Africa Region, commended the ATU for the leadership and promotion of ICTs in Africa.

"The ATU is playing a critical role in the region, supporting member countries with their policies and strategies, sharing best practices, building capacity and driving innovation and we are delighted to be able to support them," he said.

He said the Union had connected hundreds of millions of Africans to secure high-speed broadband and cloud solutions in the last two decades and earned the trust and support of their customers and regulators.

As part of the MoU, the partners would also start offering cutting-edge training to ATU members, access to global experts to discuss the latest technologies and trends, and collaboration on research to help progress the continent's digitisation.