President Cyril Ramaphosa recently opened the 4th Industrial Revolution SA Digital Economy Summit and surprised many industry players with his comments about 5G, Huawei, and the United States (US).
Ramaphosa said he received a letter from local telecommunications companies which said the trade war between the US and China, which involve Huawei, can hurt the country.
“Because we [the telecoms companies] want to go to 5G, and only this company called Huawei can lead us to 5G, and the United States are now punishing them,” said Ramaphosa.
“We have to say we support a company which are going to take our country and indeed the world to better technologies, and that is 5G.”
Taking aim at the United States
The President also took a swipe at the United States, saying it has been “unable to imagine a better future which goes beyond 4 plus 1G, where they have been unable to imagine what 5G can offer”.
He added that the United States was ‘clearly jealous’ that a Chinese company called Huawei has outstripped them.
“Because they have been outstripped, they must now punish that one company [Huawei] and use it as a pawn in the fight that they have with China.”
“We cannot afford to have our own economy held back because there is this fight that the United States are having and borne out of their own jealousies,” he said.
What Ramaphosa was told
From Ramaphosa’s speech, many people may deduce that he based his comments about 5G, the United States, and Huawei on what Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom said in their letter to him.
To claim that only Huawei can lead South Africa to 5G would be strange, as these companies also deal with other prominent 5G network vendors, including Nokia, ZTE, and Ericsson.
To remove the ambiguity of what Ramaphosa was told, here is the letter which local mobile operators sent to Ramaphosa on 7 June 2019.