African Union deepens cooperation with Huawei

Nairobi (AFP) –


Huawei said Friday it had signed a draft agreement to reinforce its cooperation with the African Union in a number of areas, including in 5G communications that is at the heart of the Chinese telecom giant's dispute with the United States.

The draft agreement will also reinforce their cooperation in areas such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and high-speed networks.

Huawei -- the world's second smartphone maker -- has become embroiled in a dispute with the United States because of its leading role in developing equipment for next-generation 5G mobile phone networks.

The US government has warned that its equipment could serve as a Trojan horse for Chinese intelligence services, a claim Huawei has denied. Washington has urged its partners to shun the firm.

The US has also moved to block US companies from doing business with the firm, which has prompted China to warn it will create a blacklist of "unreliable" foreign companies.

Friday's agreement between Huawei and the AU follows one signed in 2015.

"This collaboration is witness to the continued confidence between the African Union and Huawei," said Philippe Wang, the firm's vice president for northern Africa.

He added that this accord should put a rest to "rumours that Huawei equipment leaked data, given that the AU conducted a complete audit of its IT system ... and the conclusions rejected information that appeared in the press last year."

In 2018, the French newspaper Le Monde reported that China had spied on the AU's headquarters in Addis Ababa, citing sources inside the organisation.

It reported that the spying began in 2012, after the completion of the AU's new headquarters building that was financed by China.

The AU had rejected the allegations.

China is Africa's top trade partner, and Beijing invests billions each year in the continent's infrastructure such as roads, railways and ports, as well into projects exploiting natural resources.