Huawei Making Extra Effort To Increase Connectivity To More Areas

Will Meng, CEO of Huawei Kenya, had a sit down with our very own Humphrey Odhiambo. Their discussion enveloped the Kenyan ICT industry and bridging the digital divide to contribute to Kenya's success. Excerpts of their conversation below.

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Will Meng, CEO of Huawei Kenya

HO: What do you feel is the biggest strength of Huawei Kenya right now?

WM: Our biggest strength is our strong local roots in Kenya that we have built up over 21 years, with hundreds of local staff, many in senior positions who have been with us for over a decade, tens of local subcontractors and hundreds of partners for providing training, service and integrated solutions. Our relationships with our local customers are also strong, based on our track record of high quality, leading innovation, and exceptional commitment to customer service. These local roots stand us in good stead.

HO: What are the key contributions Huawei Kenya will make to Kenya under your leadership?

WM: Now that the government has got a clear blueprint (and soon a strategy) for the digital economy, we want to help Kenya achieve that. We will focus out contributions on some of the key pillars, especially infrastructure, digital government and digital business as this is where our leading technologies can make a big impact.

However we also want to make a big impact on the pillar of digital skills and values. Huawei Kenya, especially myself is very committed to supporting local ICT talent and building an ICT talent ecosystem. Our ICT Academy initiatives, that partners with higher education institutions now has over 30 partners in Kenya, with hundreds of lecturers trained, and thousands of students. I want to expand this.

We have also worked closely with the Ministry of ICT for a long time on the Presidential Digital Talent Program and Seeds for the Future. Since last year, we have begun to support Ajira as well, especially as we seek to reach more youth who may not be at higher education. All our programs are geared to harnessing digital talent, supporting ICT talent because it helps create jobs in the ICT industry and other industries as they digitize, and bridging the digital divide to contribute to Kenya’s success.

HO: What is the core focus here in Kenya?

WM: We are very focused on increasing the benefits of technology to individual Kenyans as well as Kenyan companies and government more broadly. This year of course we have been focused on the efforts to combat COVID-19 by supporting the extra demands on the networks for home working, ensuring the stability for M-PESA etc. We strongly feel that the President’s Big Four Agenda and the economic recovery depend on ICT more than ever before. So we will increase our efforts to extend connectivity to more areas to make sure no-one is left behind, to more businesses, and to more government buildings.

We also want to help the government to digitize as much as possible to enhance access and quality of services to citizens. In this regards key focus areas will include health, education, transport and finance sectors.

HO: What have been the biggest challenges you have had to overcome?

WM: My personal priorities will be around supporting our staff and customers, especially during this difficult time, so that they can continue to grow, building digital skills amongst the general population and future ICT workforce through our various training programs with our partners, and maintaining the high quality of our products and service for our customers.

During this pandemic, we supported some of the Ministries in equipping them with video conferencing systems and our staff have been able to fully support our customers with the networks to keep the country connected. I am very proud of our staff for working so hard and being so dedicated. We know that we are “essential workers” and must do everything we can despite the pandemic in order to maintain and enhance this essential infrastructure.

HO: Why did you want to be CEO of Huawei Kenya?

WM: Before this job, I was Deputy CEO in charge of sales for Kenya, so I already have a strong understanding of the country’s current situation and needs for ICT. I am keen to be able to work more with our customers on their digital transformation. I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed living in Kenya these past two years and I am delighted in knowing that I will be here for the foreseeable future, with beautiful National parks, the great rift and the beaches of the coast, it is such a beautiful country with such friendly people. I am glad I will have the opportunity to explore more.

HO: What are Huawei Kenya’s Priorities going forward?

WM: I have really enjoyed living in Kenya for the last two years and working closely with our Kenyan staff. Our priority will really be to help Kenya grow its digital economy so that it can create more jobs and economic growth for this country.

Kenya is at a really exciting time with a very strong base of ICT infrastructure, local talent and local ICT ecosystem compared to many other countries, which can really help lift Kenya to the next level. I hope as CEO I can lead Huawei to help Kenya to bridge the digital divide to make it fully connected.

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