Technology giant Huawei is poised to become one of China’s main links for fuelling the next phase of its ambitious programmes under the Belt and Roads Initiative (BRI) in Kenya.
Chinese authorities immediately placed the tech firm at the centre of implementing key economic agreements with Kenya, in what could make the company’s role more prominent in extending Beijing’s influence.
Kenya just signed a Sh17.5 billion agreements for the Konza Data Centre Smart Cities Project under the Ministry of ICT.
In the deal, Huawei will build a national cloud data centre, smart ICT network, public safe city and smart traffic solution as well as a cloud centre for the government enterprise service.
According to a dispatch from State House, the programme to be hosted in the proposed Konza Technocity, a Vision 2030 project, will develop a “technology-intensive and high-tech industries in ICT, biotechnology and e-commerce”.
“Phase I of the project is estimated to create over 17,000 jobs and contribute an estimated Sh90 billion to the Kenyan economy,” the dispatch said without elaborating.
In the aftermath of the BRI Forum in Beijing, leaders including President Uhuru Kenyatta agreed to strengthen communication, trade and infrastructure and develop a stronger digital platform.
President Kenyatta said the digital platforms can be helped by investments from the private sector “to bridge the gap between the participating countries and to identify opportunities and challenges” of reforms.
"[The] private sector and citizens of our countries must find ways to connect the several sectors involved,” he said.
Huawei, which is China’s most prominent telecoms firm, is currently embroiled in a tiff with the US over spying claims (its officials recently sued America).
But Beijing has placed it at the centre of its foreign policy, indicating how China could use technology to expand influence.
Traditionally, infrastructure building has been China’s way of sustaining relations but the choice of Huawei also falls under Beijing’s recent resolutions.
Under the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation, Chinese President Xi Jinping identified eight ‘initiatives’ in Africa such as industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity and trade facilitation. It is under the infrastructure initiative that Huawei’s role will be prominent.
The Chinese announced a project called Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, which targets to improve energy, transport, ICT and cross-border water resources.