MOU Signing with Leon Li – Southern Africa Network Marketing and Solution Sales Dept – Huawei, Juanita Clark CEO DCA (witness) and Estate Living CEO Louise Martin

CONNECTIVITY changes lives.

And with good fibre, the digital economy, the private sector players and governments can change the world for citizens.

This message was clear at a workshop held by Huawei at the Digital Council Conext Digital Infrastructure Summit in Cape Town.

Developed countries lead the way, with the digital economy accounting for 51.3 percent of GDP, whereas developing countries were lagging behind at only 20 percent.

So with all partners working together to improve broadband quality and fibre connectivity, sharing global best practices and investing in training of local talent, that future will be secured.

“More than 43% of global GDP comes from the digital economy,” said Samuel Chen, President of Southern Africa Carrier Network Business Group – Huawei.

He added that no country can afford to be left behind.

Chen said, “telecommunications is at the core of that economy” and that fibre offers the best, most reliable option for the telecommunications industry to provide connectivity to industry sites, homes and enterprises. 

The need for reliable fibre coverage is key as the rollout of government services depends on digital connections. Enterprise digitalisation also requires higher bandwidth and reliability, while more households use data services for entertainment, learning, and home security.

Philly Mapulane, Deputy Minister of Communication and Digital Technology in South Africa, echoed that sentiment.

Mapulane thanked Huawei and others for their role in helping with digital rollout, and added that government sees digital technology playing a bigger role in addressing some of the country’s most pressing challenges.

“There is no question that connectivity has a role to play in addressing the unemployment rate. As such, our emphasis is on access, not coverage. Our country has significant internet coverage, therefore the disparity between coverage and access is what we need to address,”  he said.

Policies and regulations must support fibre network deployment.

Lassina Konate, Director of Digital Economy and Telecommunications in the Ministry of Digital Economy, Telecommunication and Innovation, outlined how Cote d’Ivoire has policy to improve connectivity.

The Western African country has passed regulations requiring all new buildings to be wired for connectivity in the same way as they are for water and electricity.

Huawei South Africa understands the importance of this pre-provisioning mechanisms for all new buildings to expanding fibre access, and thus the company signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Estate Living during the summit.

The arrangement will accelerate fibre connectivity in the residential development space.

Said Estate Living CEO Louise Martin: “A lot of residential communities are early adopters and the lessons they’ve learned have paid off on the streets.”

Juanita Clark, Chief Executive Officer – Digital Council Africa, emphasised the importance of building partnerships to tackle the challenges in fibre deployment and share best practices.

Tanzanian Deputy Minister for Information, Communication & Information Technology Kundo Andrea Mathew said: “The United Republic of Tanzania has made great strides in the development and use of ICT.”

The country plans to extend fibre to increase broadband rollout and internet penetration from 43% to 80% by 2025, he said.

Kenya’s National Construction Authority General Manager, David Mathu, said it was important to review outdated building codes to ensuring the mechanism for pre-provisioning are included.

Collaboration between private and government sectors was therefore key.

Frank Yang, Huawei’s Vice President of Southern Africa, said: “The future indeed will be lit up by fibre.”

“The support and alignment from governments as well as infrastructure sharing from industry will be critical to securing this future. The MOU signed today between Huawei and Estate Living is an example of the kind of partnership that will be critical in opening up further fibre access,” Yang concluded.