The Africa Union (AU) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei to strengthen their cooperation in information and communication technologies, the Chinese telecom giant announced on Friday.
“The main objective of the MOU is to strengthen their partnership in the following 5 areas: broadband, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, 5G and artificial intelligence,” Huawei said in a statement.
The development comes at a time when Huawei is at the heart of the trade war between the United States and China.
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The company was placed in May by Washington on a list of suspicious companies to which American entities cannot sell technological equipment.
The Trump administration suspects the Shenzhen group of spying for Beijing. China responded on Friday by announcing the creation of its own blacklist of “unreliable” foreign companies.
The agreement between Huawei and the AU follows a previous Memorandum of Understanding signed in February 2015.
“This collaboration demonstrates the Africa Union continued confidence in Huawei,” said Philippe Wang, Vice President of the Chinese Group for North Africa.
“Through this approach, we also want to put an end to rumours of data leaks from Huawei equipment, as the AU has carried out a full audit of its IT system throughout the organisation, and the findings contradict the statements made in the media last year,” he added.
In 2018, the French newspaper Le Monde reported that China had spied on the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, citing sources within the African institution.
According to the daily, the information theft had been taking place since 2012, when the construction of the brand new AU building, donated by China, was completed.
The President of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, had denounced “totally false allegations”.
According to Le Monde, the AU’s servers had been changed in 2017, when the system flaw was discovered, and a new IT architecture deployed.
As Africa’s largest trading partner, China invests several billion dollars annually on the continent in infrastructure (roads, railways, ports) and industrial parks.