Charles Yang

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: As the countries around the world grapple with the effect of the new coronavirus pandemic and nations are slowly reopening their economies, digital technology is playing a critical role these days, said Huawei officials during a video conference which was attended by ten media entities in the Middle East countries recently.

“Today, ICT companies in the region have a critical role to play in the evolution of digital economies working alongside governments, NGOs, and local communities to harness technologies like 5G to spur industrial innovation and investment,” contends Charles Yang, VP, Huawei Middle East. “The outbreak has led to increased demand for ICT solutions, specifically in areas like 5G amidst a boost in network usage. There is simply a huge amount of data traffic now being generated for personal and business use, and 5G is the best option to ease such network pressure,” he said.

Several countries in the Middle East  have launched 5G commercially in its first wave itself. Many regulators took a collaborative approach to 5G spectrum allocations and licensing, with large-scale rollouts beginning as early as 2018. Yang said Huawei remains committed to innovation and the research and development which he thinks is the main reason why they are now being tagged as the leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices.

Considering the US restrictions and pressures along with the threat of coronavirus, Yang said Huawei  has achieved its global target revenue in the first quarter of 2020. “We increased up to $25.7 billion, or an increase of 12.4 percent on same period last year,” Yang said. “Every year we spend 15 percent of our revenue for the R&D. I think this is the secret why we are now leading the technology. This year, Huawei continues to invest and innovate in connectivity, not to mention in 5G technology. We are fully aware of our responsibility as a leading ICT provider may it be in the security and trust of every valued individuals, we are open and transparent.

“ICT is the foundation of intelligent world. We are committed to bringing the digital world to every persons or organizations in the world; we are independent and a private company founded in 1987,” he added.  “The use cases for 5G are practically unlimited, although certain sectors can stand to benefit more in current circumstances, such as healthcare, education, transportation, and energy to mention a few,” notes Yang. “But transitioning towards a smarter society, in general, requires strong partnerships between the public and private sectors. The need to develop the 5G ecosystem, including the talent ecosystem, is clearer than ever.”

One area that collaboration is being seen is in the concept of 5G+X; the combination of 5G connectivity with other advanced AI, IoT, and cloud technologies. In last year’s GSMA report “The Mobile Economy Middle East & North Africa”, the telecom industry body estimated that there would be around 45 million 5G connections across the region by 2025, with the contribution of mobile technology and services to the MENA region reaching more than $220 billion in value by 2023.

Competitive edge

The 5G+X approach is also an area where Huawei feels it brings a competitive edge to the market. “We are in a unique position to bring together Huawei’s expertise in 5G with other areas like AI, the cloud, and smart devices. No other company offers the end-to-end solutions that embody this concept of 5G+X,” says Yang.

Indeed, a focus on R&D has helped the company to become a clear leader in the global commercial deployment of 5G. It has worked with carriers and industry partners worldwide to explore the application of 5G in more than 300 projects, established 5G joint innovation centers in places like Europe, and is an active member of more than 400 standards organizations.

“It’s with long-term R&D investment that we have been able to lead the pack in multiple technology domains, and continue to earn the respect and trust of our customers despite significant external pressure,” maintains Yang, who cites close cooperation with external bodies as instrumental to its success in the Middle East. “We’re continuing to work closely with governments, customers, and partners to provide services that help them to pursue digital transformation and realize national development visions.”

Security and privacy protection do remain a top priority for Huawei, according to Yang. The executive believes that Huawei now has a “proven track record” in that field. He cites that over 700 cities and 228 Fortune Global 500 companies – including 58 in the top 100 – have chosen Huawei as their digital transformation partner.

“We work with governments, industries, and our customers in an open, transparent, and constructive way to maximize the benefits of ICT infrastructure while improving its security. We are fully aware of our responsibilities as a global ICT supplier,” commented Yang. Over the past 30 years, Huawei has in fact worked with carriers to build more than 1,500 networks, providing network services to over 3 billion people in more than 170 countries and regions. Its customers include mainstream carriers, Fortune 500 companies, and hundreds of millions of consumers.

“We have put in place a comprehensive cyber security assurance system, and have a proven track record in that field. Our cyber security practices have won the trust of partners across the global value chain. Huawei’s 5G products have passed multiple third-party security certifications, and Huawei has become the first company to gain the CC EAL4+ certificate.”

The company’s local growth is also encouraged by Huawei’s support for local talent in the Middle East. Huawei has worked for years with local government authorities and academic institutions to develop home-grown talent that can lead the industry forward. That mission is becoming all the more important as economies are affected by COVID-19 and governments place an even greater emphasis on local job creation.

“The key to a mutually-beneficial ecosystem is to enable everyone to use their own strengths to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts,” concludes Yang. “It is only through cooperation that we can bring digital to more homes, offices, and communities in the Middle East,” he concluded.