Huawei’s Android restriction: How it affects the African market

New versions of its smartphones outside China will lose access to popular Google applications and services
Huawei's Android restriction: How it affects the African market

As the U.S/China trade war heats up, Huawei smartphone users were caught in one of its outcomes, following a recent announcement to suspend the company’s access to Google Android updates.

The announcement would see Google products like Google Play, Gmail and Google Maps become unavailable on new Huawei products, while older phones would lose access to new versions of Android.

Huawei in a statement had responded by saying

“We have made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry. Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products covering those that have been sold or still in stock globally. We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally”.

The U.S government appears to have paid attention, as Huawei got some breathing space with a 90 -day scale back on the restrictions when the Bureau of Industry and Security of the U.S Department of Commerce announced that it would issue a ‘Temporary General Licence” ( TGL) amending the current order that bans American companies from supplying technologies to Huawei.

In an ensuing update, Google says it was complying with an executive order issued by the U.S government and was reviewing the “implications”, later adding that Google Play, through which Google allows users to download apps and the security features of its antivirus software, Google Play Protect will continue on existing Huawei devices.

New versions of its smartphones outside China will lose access to popular applications and services including Google Play, Google Maps, and the Gmail app.

Concerns for Africa?

So how does this all affect Huawei’s Africa market? Huawei has grown its reach in Africa, Europe and parts of Asia where it pitches cheaper products compared to Apple.

It is currently testing the new generation Internet connectivity known as 5G, which could run future tech products such as self-driven cars and traffic control solutions.

No African country has raised an issue with Huawei being a threat to national security. A spokesman for South Africa’s department of Trade and Industry, Sidwell Medupe, says that the South African government does not intend to alter its behaviour towards Huawei.

Huawei has been growing at a fast rate globally over the last year. In the first quarter of 2019 it shipped 59.9 million smartphones, according to analysis firm, IDC– selling an average of more than 660,000 phones every day.

This represents year-on-year growth of more than 50%, and gave the company a real chance of overtaking Samsung as the world’s biggest cellphone company.

Huawei South Africa could not release local sales figures, but if its South Africa market share tracks its global position, it would have sold 2.5 million smartphones locally in 2018.


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