Huawei's woes, Expo 2020 & crowdfunding Africa

Huawei's woes, Expo 2020 & crowdfunding Africa
By Euronews

This feature of Business Line breaks down the ongoing dispute between Huawei and the US, gives a glimpse of how Dubai is preparing for Expo 2020 and how crowdfunding is breathing new life into local economies in Senegal.

Huawei and the race for 5G world dominance

The fifth generation wireless network, or '5G', has been the focus of a lot of the press over the last few months. This is because the potential for ultra-fast wireless speeds offered by 5G could have an impact on a range of technology: smartphones - but also remote surgical operations, driverless cars and augmented reality.

Each progression in wireless technology has brought about faster wireless connection and, as a result, new possibilities for anything that uses a wireless connection. The difference between 3G and 4G was a significant leap. It enabled high definition videos to be downloaded - leading to widespread use of products like Snapchat and FaceTime.

5G could be an even greater leap. It is faster than wired broadband internet - the way most people connect to the internet in their homes - this means that consumers could replace their wired connection with a 5G wireless connection. A range of technologies that collect and process data will be able to work faster.

Take driverless cars for instance - they need to process huge amounts of data to react to the traffic around them. 5G will allow them to process data on a whole new level, increasing passenger safety while reducing the risk of accidents.

Rolling out the networking infrastructure to enable 5G is where Huawei comes in, the Chinese telecoms giant that is caught in the crossfires of the US-China trade war. The firm has been one of the main providers of such technology around the world but Washington is trying to stop this.

The White House placed a ban on using the company's equipment on national security grounds in May. Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the internet of the future "must have Western values embedded within it" and that America has been clear about how they view the risks connected to Huawei with "concern that it is not possible to mitigate those [risks] anywhere inside of a 5G network."

Facebook now refuse to preinstall apps on handsets made by the Chinese company and Google are blocking android updates on them - two things that could impact Huawei's mobile phone business considerably.

A spokesperson from Huawei said the actions of the American government are unfair:

"There are thousands and thousands of people all over the world, many of whom do not carry an American passport who are now being affected by a law enacted by the U.S. government. Is that fair? Is it reasonable? We believe it's not. What the motivation of the U.S. government is, you really have to ask them."

Expo 2020 and Al Maktoum airport

Dubai is set to host the first World Expo starting in October 2020. It will take place over six months, celebrating culture and collaboration. A total of 192 countries will attend, with millions of visitors expected to descend on the UAE from around the world.

There is a huge infrastructure development ongoing including the expansion of Al Maktoum airport. Euronews spoke to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum - CEO and chairman of the Emirates Group, and chairman of Dubai World – to see how preparations are coming along:

“Dubai 2020 will not only be the impact for Dubai but the whole region and everybody will really benefit out of that of the Expo 2020. It's also we wanted really to make sure that this event will be very successful. That especially coincide also with the 50 years of the United Arab Emirates birthday.”

He was optimistic about the future of Al Maktoum airport:

“Today, Al Maktoum airport can, as we speak today, can handle 30 million passengers. I think we've seen a lot of shift of traffic from Fly Dubai and some other airlines to to use it during the closure of the runway. Al Maktoum is the future airport of of Dubai and will always continue to grow.”

Looking to next year, he said there would be constant hard work:

“I think we'll be talking more about Expo because it's going to be closer. But as always this industry is a tough industry. You know. It's that you need really to be very efficient, you look all the time at your costs and what you are doing.”

Crowd-funding startups in Senegal

O’Merveilles is the first high-end patisserie in Touba - Senegal’s 2nd biggest city and it happens to be 40% financed by crowdfunding. Crowdfunding isn't new but in Senegal it is still in its infancy. The banking sector tends to avoid taking risks in financing new ventures and imposes high interest rates on loans compared to banks in more developed countries. Crowdfunding offers a convenient solution to this problem and can breath life into the local economy.

Maitre Mame Adama Gueye is an investor in O'Merveilles:

"They were spot on to open this O'Merveilles in Touba where there’s purchasing power, there’s demand and nothing there before it. So it’s an extremely innovative move and very interesting to invest outside of Dakar, to create a local economy."

Moctar Sarr is the managing director pf M&A Capital - he hopes to turn African SMEs into pan African multinationals:

"This growth today will allow us to reach critical mass and to position ourselves as leaders, really as leaders, in the pastry shop and Tea Room industry in Senegal. Maybe we're not the Senegalese Starbucks, but we're not far from it. We could do it ourselves, but we have the opportunity to show that crowdfunding is an important lever that impacts our economies."

Crowdfunding could be a promising way to help stimulate African start-ups as well as give local communities a stake in their success.

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