Huawei popular in SA despite US security fears

Chinese telcom Huawei’s products are popular in South Africa due to their high quality and affordability, according to experts, in spite of fears raised by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that they pose security risks and should be barred.

As reported by HumanIPO last week, the US committee warned that Huawei, along with ZTE, cannot be trusted, with a report stating that the telecoms could pose a “risk to internal security as they are involved in the manufacture of electronic components such as electric power grids for banking and finance systems, gas, oil and water systems and rail and shipping.”

Yet Huawei has a strong following in Africa, having invested US$1.5 billion in the continent, and South African experts have spoken in the telecom’s defence.

“The popular use of the China’s telecom goods in South Africa is more than most people think,” IT expert Bongani Mhlanga told Xinhua in an interview. “Many people use them, but they are unaware that they are China’s goods like the Huawei USB internet modems distributed by South African mobile phone operators.”

“Huawei and ZTE have gained a lot of respect all over the world for supplying quality goods and large investments,” he said.

In South Africa, Huawei was contracted by Telkom in August deploy the next-generation ultra-broadband network. It has also signed a deal with Altech.

Kenya was one of the first African destinations where Huawei rolled out, in 1998, and it is now the leading CDMA product provider in the East African region, focusing on cheap but high-quality products. Huawei’s IDEOS smartphones were introduced in the Kenyan market in 2010 and sold 130,000 pieces in the country in a year.

The company also hopes to tap into the Nigerian mobile market with Smartphone estimating a 35 percent increment in sales. Nigeria has more than 100 million mobile subscribers and is ranked as the leading market in Africa.

In spite of US criticism, African consumers are likely to stick with Huawei’s products, according to Mhlanga.

“The new Chinese brands are exploring the markets. South Africans tend to be loyal to the tried and tested products. Slowly, South Africans are beginning to accept more Chinese telecom products,” the expert said.

Huawei officials have already responded strongly to the US committee’s report.

Huawei’s senior vice president Charles Ding said: “Huawei has not and will not jeopardize our global commercial success nor the integrity of our customers’ networks for any third party, government or otherwise.”

Established in 1988, China-based Huawei Technologies offers networking and telecommunications equipment and services. It is the second largest supplier of MobileTelecommunications equipment across the world.

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