South Africa’s four major telecommunications companies have asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to support Huawei in South Africa, reports the Sunday Times.
In a letter dated 7 June, the CEOs of Cell C, MTN, Vodacom and Telkom wrote to the president to ask for help in dealing with the repercussions of an executive order signed by US President Donald Trump against Huawei.
In May, the Trump administration issued an order that could restrict Huawei from selling equipment in the US. Washington also put the company on a blacklist, threatening its supply of American components – from semiconductors, to the Google apps that run on its smartphones.
The CEOs said that blacklisting Huawei in South Africa would hinder the rollout of a new 5G network, as well as impact the country’s existing 3G and 4G networks.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said that the president would align with his Chinese counterpart, president Xi Jinping, and back Huawei in its fight against Trump.
“Huawei provides a strong backbone to our telecommunication sector and is the frontrunner in 5G network,” said Diko. “The advancements made in that sector are largely because of the investment Huawei made in South Africa.
“The president expressed his concern at any efforts to curtail the efforts of Huawei to deliver a comprehensive, and what we believe to be an advanced solution in the telecommunication space.”
Huawei has previously pledged to invest heavily in companies that welcome it with open arms. “Huawei will invest heavily in those countries where we are welcome,” said global vice president of marketing insights Andrew Williamson
“Restricting competition in 5G infrastructure will have huge costs. Governments and companies around the world will have to address those costs against the supposed risks of national security” .
Williamson added that rolling out 5G technology around the world will be a challenge if the US goes ahead with its sanctions.
Trump eases restrictions on Huawei
After a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump told reporters on Saturday that he would delay restrictions against Huawei, letting US companies resume sales to China’s largest telecommunications equipment maker.
Trump later tweeted that his meeting with Xi was “far better than expected.” He said Chinese President Xi Jinping had promised to buy “tremendous” amounts of US agricultural products in exchange.
After Trump and Xi met at the G-20 on Saturday, the two countries plan to restart trade talks that broke down last month. Trump told reporters he wouldn’t put additional tariffs on China for the “time being,” and that he would allow US companies to supply Huawei. “US companies can sell their equipment to Huawei,” Trump said. “We’re talking about equipment where there’s no great national security problem with it.”