Q&A with Huawei Uganda
Biztechafrica’s Omondi Julius Odera spoke to James Mulebeke, Deputy Country Director for Huawei Uganda about the Broader Way forum and Huawei’s role and challenges in Africa:
What is the Broader Way forum?
Broader Way Forum is a theme symposium launched by Huawei. Industry experts, government officials, stakeholders, and scholars from think tanks are invited to the forum to discuss hot topics, such as broadband, cloud computing, cyber security, and innovation. This is a move to generate dialogue and action on how technological innovation can accelerate broadband’s role as an enabler of social and economic development around the world.
At the previous Broader Way forum organized by Huawei on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress, you identified new growth and business models to foster the industry’s growth. What were these models and how far have they been a success to Huawei?
Huawei's Strategic Direction: Focus on ICT and Expand Customer Groups
- Establish in IT solutions through cloud to expand in the enterprise market
- Lead in networks through pipe, so as to excel in telecom carriers
- Expand in devices to be a major brand in the consumer market
Why has Huawei chosen Uganda to host the global Broader Way forum?
Huawei will hold three Broader Way forums in East & Southern Africa. These have already been held in South Africa, now in Uganda, and one will be held in Kenya next month.
We believe Uganda is an important market for us in East Africa, and the same time we wished to take our partnership with Makerere to a higher level involving other industry stake holders.
How do you measure the success of such events?
The success of the Broader Way forum will be measured by:
- The increased feedback/interest received from the participating industry stake holders ,
- Implementation of the key action points arising from the forum discussion to further push the Uganda broadband agenda.
- Increased understanding of the importance of broad band. These indicators will determine the continuity of the forum as an annual event.
How does broadband deliver social and economic benefits?
Research and implementations around the world have repeatedly shown that ICT investments can have a positive impact on jobs, productivity, GDP growth, and innovation. According to the World Economic Forum ICT Report 12, the demonstrated effects of investment in the ICT infrastructure include:
- The creation of high-skilled, high-paying jobs;
- improved international competitiveness;
- A spillover effect, which can create opportunities in many other industries;
- A better quality of life through enhanced education, healthcare, and so on;
- Stronger and more competitive small and medium businesses.
Being a pioneer of broadband connectivity in Uganda, how do you believe Uganda should handle its ICT resources to realize the perceived economic and social benefits that are associated with broadband?
Uganda can maximize on the perceived social economic benefits of broadband through reaching the Global Broadband Targets of 2015 set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Broadband Commission has four targets these include;
- Making broadband policy universal: have a national broadband plan or strategy or, include broadband in their Universal Access / Service Definitions by 2015.
- Making broadband affordable: make Entry-level broadband services affordable through adequate regulation.
- Connecting homes to broadband: By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access.
- Getting people online: By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in Least Developed Countries.
- Making citizens aware of the value and availability of broadband services
Huawei plays an active role in driving the deployment of national broadband networks worldwide. What are your greatest milestones?
Huawei is a market leader with strong delivery experience and have comprehensive NBN capability & E2E solutions. Huawei won 8 NBN projects out of 9 by September of 2011
Huawei helped Camtel (in Cameroon) with customized BP, NP and EOT solution-Increase BB penetration, covers 35 cities throughout the country, bring 2% GDP growth and ensure social welfare. Camtel is now able to provide e-Health, e-education, e-Government and other e-services.
What are the stumbling blocks in African countries within which you have deployed national broadband networks?
- Lack of clear-cut broadband policy that could create the enabling environment and encourage private sector stakeholders to deliver the 'last Mile" broadband access to homes and corporate organisations.
- lack of adequate knowledge of ICT by decision makers
- issue of power is also a major infrastructural defect
- Poor uptake plans to make sure that national backbones are used.
How is Huawei using such forums to eliminate digital divide that currently exists in the globe?
We believe collaboration among stakeholders in both the public and private sectors will effectively shape new national broadband business models, creating a prosperous digital economy for the entire industry ecosystem. This development is also critical in our shared vision to eliminate the global digital divide, making the world a better place through better communication