Huawei preparing to broaden footprint in Jamaica

Huawei preparing to broaden footprint in Jamaica

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

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THE Chinese technology giant Huawei is preparing to broaden its footprint locally despite pressure on the Jamaican Government from the United States to reduce the influence of the company in the country's telecommunications infrastructure.

US officials, led by former Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia, repeatedly argued that Huawei is a security risk to Jamaica's telecommunications system and warned that there could be consequences over its presence in the island.

But during a Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange this week, Huawei officials based in Jamaica rejected claims of any security risks to the island even as they shied away from detailed comments on the claims by the US officials.

Instead the Huawei team focused on its contribution to Jamaica in the 14 years since it set up an operation in the island and vowed to deepen its contribution even further as it helps the country travel along the digital highway.

According to the Huawei team, which was led by Bob Zhou, its general manager for Government and Public Sector Business in Central America and the Caribbean, the company, which spent US$27 million in acquisition and investments in the island from 2018-2020 and which paid over US$5 million in taxes during that period, is committed to Jamaica and plans to be here for many more years.

“We are committed to supporting the local ICT development of Jamaica and also we will try and continue our responsibilities as a good corporate citizen,” Allen Chen, Huawei's regional vice-president for Central America and the Caribbean Region, told Observer editors and reporters.

“We will support the ICT knowledge transfer to the young people and also our subcontractors… Everybody is embracing the digital era and we are ready and we have the competence to help Jamaica,” added Chen, as Zhou declared that Huawei is determined to provide a better service to its Jamaican customers and increase its contribution to the Jamaican society.

The Huawei officials pointed to the several contributions which the company has made to Jamaica over the past 14 years, including training for 42 young people under its Seeds for the Future flagship programme, which was done virtual last year because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Under the programme, at least 10 Jamaican students from The University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) are usually given a two-week study trip to China to receive hands-on ICT training.

Now the company plans to expand that programme by providing the two universities with the resources to do the training locally.

“Huawei is trying our best to contribute to the knowledge transfer to the young people. That is why we work together with UTech and also UWI in the past four years,” said Chen as he declared that Huawei is convinced that education is one of the most important things for sustainable development.

“Later we will continue our cooperation with UWI and UTech for a bigger programme. With the Seeds for the Future programme every year we can select only 10 students, so why not adopt this programme locally so that Huawei provides the training for the instructors in the universities and they can pass the skills of the ICT technology to more students. Huawei is willing to work together with the universities by giving the universities by providing them with some ICT laboratories,” added Chen

Courtney Hamilton, director of the Huawei Enterprise Team in Jamaica, and one of 40 Jamaicans employed by the company locally, told the Monday Exchange that the idea is to build these state-of-the-art labs, one at each university.

“Then we train the lecturers and then we have a programme that is integrated in the curriculum where hundreds of students could participate and benefit from this, because they have the equipment there, they will have the trained lecturers and they will be able to deliver the content to a much wider cross-section of students,” declared Hamilton.

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