Chinese mobile technology giant Huawei and Angolan telecom service provider Unitel have signed an agreement that will see the former provide a range of green energy solutions to the latter’s operations. Under the agreement, Huawei will install solar panels, smart lithium batteries and energy-efficient data centres at various Unitel sites. This shift to low-carbon technologies is aimed at reducing Unitel’s dependency on diesel generators by up to 75%.
Although the number of sites involved and financial structure of the planned implementation of these green energy solutions have not been revealed, Huawei estimates it will result in the reduction of Unitel’s operating costs by around 40% through the reduction of fuel requirements, site maintenance, and battery replacement costs. Such a substantial saving will enable the Angolan telecommunications firm to redirect its resources towards network modernisation.
This is the latest in a series of collaborations between Unitel and Huawei since 2019. The Chinese firm has become Unitel’s preferred supplier of equipment and technology solutions. In August 2021, Unitel launched its Unitel Money platform, which it developed in collaboration with Huawei and using Huawei technology. The two companies have also partnered on charitable endeavours such as a US$60m programme launched in 2020 to provide free internet to schools in the country. Huawei provided the equipment and technological solutions while Unitel ensured internet connectivity. This partnership is expected to expand as Unitel rolls out the 5G network with Huawei’s assistance. Huawei is helping Unitel develop low-carbon dual-energy target networks for its 5G and broadband networks.
The strength of Huawei’s engagement in Angola is unsurprising. The Chinese technology giant has been pursuing business development in African states for several years. Africa has a significant – and somewhat untapped – market. Furthermore, the development of mobile technology solutions and infrastructure in African states such as Angola is an essential part of China’s ambitions to increase its digital footprint in Africa. This forms part of China’s so-called ‘Digital Silk Road’ initiative which aims to improve the presence of Chinese mobile technology, social media, and e-commerce platforms in Africa. Chinese technology giants such as Huawei form the vanguard of this initiative and are helping create the infrastructure needed to develop this ‘Digital Silk Road’ in Africa.
Huawei’s role in helping roll out mobile technology and green energy solutions in Africa is critical. The biggest obstacles to realising Africa’s digital potential are access to reliable internet and power supply. It is estimated that as many as 31% of Africans lack internet access and 52% do not have access to reliable power supply. Such investments have also helped strengthen Africa’s economic ties with China. Despite Western misgivings, Huawei is now the preferred technology solutions provider to much of Africa.
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