Huawei’s Tech Centre and Training Program in South Africa, Facts and Reflections

  • Huawei’s Vision and Strategy

• “Glocalisation” & “Tech innovations in South Africa’s emerging market”

In 2011, Huawei announced their strategy of “glocalisation” in South Africa, which was “customer-centric innovation, establishment and maintenance of local business partnerships as well as localised operations”.

• “Local” & “Future”

Huawei has stressed their focus on promoting local enterprise and encouraging local business, as well as educating locals with skills and knowledge that will help with South Africa’s long-term technological development.

“partnering with the local business community through local employees, sharing resources with local partners, as well as providing opportune to develop local talent that will form the next generation of telecom leaders”

  • Tech Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa 

“Huawei signed a Cooperation Contract with the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) on July 19th during the launch of their joint Innovation and Experience Centre in Johannesburg.”

“The centre cost $5 million, and is located in Sandown’s Vunani Office Park in Johannesburg. It will also serve as an open lab to 5 local universities, namely: University of Johannesburg, Tshwane University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, Vaal University of Technology. Huawei has also committed to training 1000 ICT talent in South Africa by the year 2021.”

There are more Huawei tech centres being built across Africa and they aim to provide technological education and training to students and entrepreneurs, offer a platform for innovative ideas, includes internship programs and potential job opportunities.

  • Huawei Bringing South African Students to Train in China

“In an agreement signed this week between Huawei and the government of South Africa, an investment by the Chinese telecommunications company will bring 1,000 South African students to China over the next five years to participate in a new training program. The students will be trained in telecommunications networking, cloud computing, and big data.”

The students who are selected to travel to China for training are advised to “take advantage of the opportunity, and to “come back and develop ICT solutions that will answer some South African challenges.”

  • What Local Africans Say – Positive and Optimistic About Huawei At Best

“A few weeks after the Beijing recruitment event, after CVs had been reviewed and interviews had been concluded, I had a conversation with a friend from South Africa who was working in Beijing. He had participated in the recruitment drive and had been made an offer to work at Huawei. In our brief conversation, he spoke about how strange it was that he was negotiating the terms of his potential contract on Wechat, and how he hoped that he would be placed in Beijing and not in South Africa, at least not immediately. In many ways, this friend’s experience was living testament to the headlines that commend Huawei’s successes in Africa, its training of 1000 South Africans in China, its investment in African markets, its broadening reach. While certainly not a perfect company, Huawei continues to do an impressive job of solidifying its place as a top smartphone and network infrastructure provider in African countries.”

  • Reflections

     1.  Huawei in South Africa: “an aggressive publicity campaign”? “a propaganda”?

This could potentially be a legitimate and reasonable view, but –

     2.   An unsupported claim

However, virtually no evidence to assess the effects of Huawei’s training program – Huawei does not reveal any results of its training program and there is little or no research done from any outsiders.

     3.  Applying Social Constructionism to Anglo-Americanisation

I have found online commentators and scholars stating Huawei is doing propaganda and their tones are sometimes critical albeit there is no evidence to back up their claim. Is one accusing Huawei of propaganda simply because it is a Chinese company with a huge market share in the African telecom market? Yet would one say the same with what IBM is doing in Kenya (Eamon’s research)? Or because it is an Anglo-American company, its intentions are always justified? The psychology behind this is very interesting. I have mentioned the theory of social constructionism in an attempt to explaining how people, especially millennials are ‘anglo-americanised’ due to the fast expansion of technology and social media.Here again it could be said that many, including both ordinary people and professional commentators and scholars, have such a contrasting view on the intentions and ethics of Chinese and Anglo-American companies, are socially constructed by Anglo-Americanisation. This does not necessarily mean their considerations are not correct, but questionable in nature.

     4. The limitation of our research

In addition, I feel the lack of hard evidence of the influence of those tech and telecom companies in Africa, both Chinese and Anglo-American, has been the major limit of our research. This is due to two reasons. Firstly, we have chosen to study a very recent, not to even mention ongoing topic. Results and influences are always more comprehensive and clearer to be interpreted in retrospect. Secondly, it has been easy to find the announcement of the strategies and plans of these companies, but hard to find their own reports on what their training programs have achieved. It is worth noting that it seems that this does not only apply to Chinese company Huawei but also Anglo-American companies such as IBM.

     5.  Huawei’s concept of “glocalisation” = Chinese colonialism in Africa? Or bilateral partnership?

I will follow up on this bigger question which is directly related to our overall project in my later posts.

 

Sources:

  • “Huawei Announces Strategy for Africa known as “glocalisation”, My Broadband, Nov 2011

https://companies.mybroadband.co.za/blog/2011/11/10/huawei’s-announces-strategy-for-africa-known-as-“glocalisation”/

  • “China’s Huawei to roll out 4G service in Ethiopian capital”, The Africa Report, Nov 2013

http://www.theafricareport.com/East-Horn-Africa/chinas-huawei-to-roll-out-4g-service-in-ethiopian-capital.html

  • “Are Chinese IT Companies doing enough to train locals in Africa?”, The Chinafrica Project, Aug 2016

http://www.chinaafricaproject.com/podcast-huawei-africa-training-ict-ben-tsui/

  • “What Huawei Has Done Right in Africa”, From Africa to China, Aug 2016

https://fromafricatochina.com/2016/08/10/what-huawei-has-done-right-in-africa/

  • “Africa: Huawei Outlines Africa Digital Strategy”, AllAfrica, 15 Nov 2016

http://allafrica.com/stories/201611150969.html

  • “Huawei launches its first innovation and experience centre in Africa’, PC Tech Magazine, July 2016

https://pctechmag.com/2016/07/huawei-launches-its-first-innovation-experience-centre-in-africa/

  • “Huawei training 1,000 South Africans in China”, The Stack, July 2016

https://thestack.com/data-centre/2016/07/22/huawei-training-1000-south-africans-in-china/

2 thoughts on “Huawei’s Tech Centre and Training Program in South Africa, Facts and Reflections

  1. Thanks very much for this, Miranda.

    A few questions, mostly contextual to help clarify your claims and overall argument:

    -do any other multinational corporations subscribe to ‘glocalisation’? Or is Huawei a pioneer in this?
    -why ‘South Africa’? Do they have efforts in other African countries? Was South Africa chosen given its level of development?
    -who are the students who have been chosen since 2011 to participate in the university training trip to China? I am wondering here if there is something here that can be said about race and class in South Africa given its turbulent history.

    In other words, despite the fact that the company does not release much data, I wonder whether something can be said about them choosing a relatively ‘safe’ investment in what they are doing in Jo’burg.

    In any case, I think that your research into this, despite its limitations which you clearly outline, will help you hone your ideas regarding similar actions by Western multinationals. Thanks for your post!

  2. Miranda, this is really good! I think that point 3 in particular has potential. The debate of social constructivism and the anglo-americanisation of millennials through their use of social media is great! Also the distinction between Huawei vs IBM.

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