Technology Transfer in Telecommunications: Barriers and Opportunities in The case of Huawei and ZTE in South Africa

Image: Flickr, ITU Pictures
Image: Flickr, ITU Pictures

Two of the most rapidly globalizing multinational corporations emerging from China’s recent economic transformation are Huawei Technologies (Huawei) and Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation (ZTE).

Recently, both have become telecommunications equipment providers for many markets across the African continent, replacing European vendors. Telecommunications, and the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector more broadly, presents a particularly interesting China-Africa case study. South Africa is one of the most important markets for Huawei and ZTE in Africa. Although its socio-economic climate is exceptional on the continent, there are still relevant lessons to be learned. Based on three months of fieldwork in South Africa, this policy brief outlines three main barriers to significant technology transfer from Chinese vendors to South African companies: increased managed services contracts, contestations for legitimacy, and weaknesses in the institutional framework.

1 Jan 2016