On October 9, Huawei finalized a memorandum of understanding with Cote D’Ivoire that calls for the joint development of the country’s ICT sector under the “Digital Cote D’Ivoire 2030” initiative. The agreement also places the Chinese company at the forefront of Cote D’Ivoire’s broadband development strategy.
As of now, Cote D’Ivoire’s ICT sector remains underdeveloped, a reality that the country is seeking to change. In August 2020, the country ranked 124th and 109th in mobile and broadband speeds, respectively (data from the SpeedTest Global Index). According to the Cote D’Ivoire’s telecommunications regulator, as of 2018, the number of fixed internet subscribers in the country represented approximately 0.6% of the population.
Regarding the MoU, Huawei’s Vice President for West Africa, Li Yungao, expressed his wish that the cooperation agreement will form the impetus for “strong political will and concrete actions on the ground for a digitalized Cote D’Ivoire by 2030.”
Despite increasing caution in Western ICT markets regarding exposure to state-linked Chinese telecommunications services and components, major Chinese telecoms such as Huawei and ZTE continue to make forays into the African ICT sector. This month, MTN Zambia contracted China’s ZTE Corporation to build a critical fiber-optic backbone that will connect the country to a transnational submarine cable.