In an increasingly global world, one of the most important assets for people can be narrowed down to one thing: connectivity. The direct and indirect impacts of connectivity for parts of the world that are struggling economically cannot be overstated, and organizations like Huawei, a network and telecommunications company, are driving growth in African markets, particularly in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

CONNECTED: In Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa, individuals travel to internet cafes to get online.

Helping the economy

“Growing evidence suggests that broadband can boost GDP incomes, helping combat poverty and hunger,” says Phoebe Huang, public affairs manager for Huawei in Africa. “The innovation efficiency of countries with higher broadband penetration is 15 times that of countries with lower broadband penetration. Broadband development also influences productivity: specifically, it can lead to an increase of 5 percent in manufacturing, 20 percent in information services, and 10 percent in services. In addition, broadband development will create more job opportunities. A 10 percent increase in broadband penetration increases the employment rate by 2 to 3 percent.”

The value of connectivity, particularly in developing countries, is multifactorial and significant. For instance, the ability to access the internet and connect with others allows children to study, health care professionals to communicate, and the public to keep informed on important local developments. It has the ability to foster ideas, collaboration and growth. A technology infrastructure is also a job creator; not only are workers needed to manage retail sales, there’s a whole system of building and maintenance created once a geographical area is more connected.

Creating new jobs

“Huawei has been in Africa for more than 17 years, so we really see ourselves as an African company. We have created thousands of jobs — today we have more than 7,000 employees in Africa,” says Roland Sladek, vice president of international media affairs at Huawei.

“We hope to bridge the digital divide and build a better connected world. We are focused on connecting people to people, people to things and things to things. We are improving the broadband penetration in Africa.”

“We continuously leverage our global innovation capabilities and cooperate with governments,
customers and industrial partners to increase the telecom network coverage significantly to achieve a win-win cooperation,” says Huang. “We believe that connectivity is the cornerstone to the development of digital economy in Africa.”

A long-term investment

Sladek believes that now is a key time to address the need for this connectivity; it
has never been as cost effective as it is now to create high quality, yet affordable devices.

“We are today the third-largest smartphone vendor in the world — we’ve launched some really cutting-edge models,” says Sladek. “Africa is an important market, first because it’s one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world, and secondly because there’s a rising middle class in Africa who want a good phone for a good price. African consumers also tend to be more open-minded regarding brands — they’re not wedded to Apple, for instance.”

Investing into telecommunications networks is a long-term commitment, and more and more countries are not only aware of this commitment — they see it as a long-term goal, even keeping in mind that some economies may be growing slower than they have previously due to external factors. In spite of this fact, by 2020 mobile data traffic in Africa is expected to increase by at least 15 times in high traffic areas.

“We hope to bridge the digital divide and build a better connected world,” says Huang. “We are focused on connecting people to people, people to things and things to things. We are improving the broadband penetration in Africa.”

“If you don’t invest today in your own telecomm infrastructure network, tomorrow you will have no business,” says Sladek. “Huawei lays today the foundation of Africa's future.”