Johannesburg - South Africa was a strategic market where Chinese-based Huawei Technologies was committed to being a long-term investor, Wilson Lui, the new chief executive of Huawei South Africa, said yesterday.
Over the past year, the firm had invested $128 million (R1 billion) in local procurement, Lui said, although he could not share the intended future investment.
Locally, Huawei has gained traction in the business market and is a supplier to telecoms firms Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom including Neotel, which have launched next generation long-term evolution networks.
In March, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA announced the award of a R485m contract to Huawei to supply a digital radio communications system for its trains and associated infrastructure.
The local consumer market will be a key target area, according to Lui.
It is hoped that the company’s Ascend P6 smartphone, which is regarded as the slimmest phone in its category globally, will be a key driver of consumer sales.
Larking Huang, the general manager for the device division, said the strategy to gain traction in the consumer market hinged on bringing the latest technology and devices from the head office to this country, and local content with devices to improve the South African user experience.
Nelson Huang, the director for solutions and marketing, said in the enterprise segment the company was developing relationships and a network of distributors for local co-operation. Huawei has about 200 resellers in the country.
Huang added that the company was also in negotiations with certain clients to create mini-innovation centres for these customers.
Lui, who was the chief executive of Huawei United Arab Emirates and Oman before taking up the South African position in June, said: “South Africa is an important, strategic market for Huawei because we believe that our growth in this market is intertwined with the overall sustainable development of a region that holds so much potential for ICT [information and communications technology] innovation and growth.”
The firm employs about 1 000 people in South Africa – where it has been operating for 15 years, of which 60 percent are local staff.
His responsibilities would include driving a market development strategy for South Africa’s rapidly changing local market ecosystem, which would continue to expand the company’s three core business groups: carrier networks, enterprise business products and solutions, and consumer devices, Huawei said.
Thecla Mbongue, a senior research analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, said five to six years ago Huawei stole market share from leaders in the provision of telecoms network infrastructure, such as base stations and towers.
Mbongue said whereas “[Huawei] have posed themselves as a challenge to main infrastructure suppliers”, the firm had graduated from a challenger to a regular player in infrastructure. - Business Report