NetOne partner Huawei is no small fish


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There is a fable about the race between a tortoise and a hare. The hare was born a fast runner, but during the race, it had a rest from time to time, taking an afternoon tea or having a nap on the grass. The tortoise surpassed the hare and won the race in the end. Huawei is like a big tortoise.

These are the opening words of Huawei Chief Executive Officer Ren Zhengfei to his 2013 annual report. Huawei, like most Chinese companies, aims to be number one in the world and it is getting there.

Huawei will be the technical partner for NetOne in the US$220 million deal that was approved by Parliament last week following President Robert Mugabe’s trip to China.

Though all legislators supported the loan some queried the management efficiency of NetOne which was once the largest mobile phone operator but is now third.

But as Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said, Huawei has now overtaken Ericcson as number one internationally.

“In terms of technology it is now way ahead and when I visited their headquarters in Beijing, I was amazed that they devote 70% of their revenue to research and development. Their workforce is not madhala, it is under 35. People who are very skilled and have important positions there, especially on technology, their employees are in their 20s and early 30s,” Chinamasa told Parliament.

Huawei says it has 150 000 employees. According to an FDI Intelligence report on where China is investing, Chinese outward FDI was most heavily focused in the communications sector between 2009 and 2013.

“The largest Chinese investing company was Huawei Technologies, which provides telecom solutions. During the period, the company invested $500m to expand its research and development (R&D) centre in Bangalore, India. It invested another $300m in an R&D facility in Campinas, Brazil.

“Globally, the company invested in 85 projects between 2009 and 2013, including a range of projects from customer contact centres, research facilities and training facilities to data centres, manufacturing and logistics facilities and shared service centres and sales offices.

“Most of the company’s investments during the period have been in western Europe, and the company’s overall trend for investment in the region has been rising, peaking in 2013 with 10 projects in the region.”

FDI Intelligence is published by the influential Financial Times Group.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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