Despite claims that Huawei is owned or controlled by the Chinese govt, the telco infrastructure firm is set to benefit from a Kenya and China trade agreement worth Sh67.5 billion to develop the Konza Data Centre and Smart Cities Project in Kenya.
The deal was signed by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and China’s President Xi Jinping during China’s second Belt and Road forum Friday.
The data centre and smart cities project is worth Sh17.5 billion while the expressway project, by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, is worth Sh50 billion.
The data centre and smart cities project, conceived in 2017 by the ICT ministry and Huawei, entails the development of core infrastructure including a National Cloud Data Centre, Smart ICT Network, Public Safe City and Smart Traffic Solution, and a Government Cloud and Enterprise Service.
It is part of the Konza Techno City, a Vision 2030 flagship project started in 2008 and aimed at developing technology-intensive and high-tech industries in ICT, biotechnology and e-commerce.
The United States is opposed to Huawei’s involvement because of China’s likely ownership or control of the technology giant. According to sources, most Chinese companies operating out of China are under obligation by their home government to gather intelligence or provide other security services when required. Because of this, governments across Europe have advised their agencies not to work with Huawei or buy its equipment. Huawei is the world’s top telecom equipment manufacturer and supplier to the world’s top mobile telephony operators.
Huawei also provided critical infrastructure support for the Sh14.9 billion CCTV security tender awarded to Safaricom in 2014. In 2017, Huawei signed a deal with the Kenya government to build a Government cloud infrastructure for government cloud services, migrate government data and applications to the government cloud, and create a platform for government departments to share data and better communicate.