Huawei’s cloud business will invest R100 million in 1 000 local start-ups and SMEs over the next three years, through what it’s termed the Spark Programme.
In addition, the Chinese technology giant is set to launch its third availability zone (AZ) for cloud services in Johannesburg later this year.
This was announced at the Huawei Eco-Connect 2022 conference at the Sandton Convention Centre on Friday, hosted by Huawei SA’s Enterprise Business Group.
Mark Chen, VP, global marketing and sales service for Huawei Cloud, who delivered his speech virtually, said the South African market is the “most important” sector within its strategy.
“Huawei Cloud is committed to invest in the growth of our customers – the partners,” he stated. “Huawei Cloud is proud to announce our R100 million investment towards the development of South African partners.”
Elaborating on the investment, Jay Zhou, MD of Huawei Cloud SA, said the company needs to enable local SMEs and start-ups to develop their capabilities.
Huawei Cloud initially announced in Mayit will partner with Silicon Cape to empower start-up companies, saying the organisation would take them through the ins and outs of cloud adoption to accelerate their companies.
Zhou officially launched the partnership initiative on Friday, noting Huawei Cloud is committed to SA and the development of start-ups and SMEs.
“We call it the Spark Programme. It’s a hybrid accelerator programme for the start-ups and SMEs, to support them to develop their business and solutions, and also help them to sell these solutions.”
While the programme focuses on specific areas − such as cloud native, finance, education, retail, manufacturing and media − others can join, he indicated.
“If you are a technical company, you are welcome to join us. We’ll also provide financial support, technical support of engineers, training and mentoring support, as well as go-to-market.”
According to Zhou, the programme started with the recruitment of start-ups this month, which will be followed by classification in August, signing up in September and kick-off in October.
Strategic partner Silicon Cape’s Dr Sumarie Roodt said both organisations are focused on ambitious dreams for the continent. “Africa is positioned to become one of the biggest global consumer markets within the next 10 to 15 years.
“E-commerce is exploding across the continent with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in place and we couldn’t think of a better time to work with Huawei.”
She noted the search has begun for 20 start-ups in the South African ecosystem that want to accelerate their business growth by adopting the cloud.
The initiative also aims to educate and equip start-ups with the relevant tools necessary to facilitate their innovative ideas.
Announcing Huawei’s third AZ for cloud services in SA, Leo Chen, president of Huawei Southern Africa, said the launch comes three years ahead of schedule.
Once live, the AZ will halve cloud latency, he stated. “South Africa is an important strategic market for Huawei Cloud.”
In 2019, Huawei rolled out Huawei Cloud, its first availability zone for cloud services in SA. In 2020, the company introduced another availability zone, also based in Johannesburg.
While the Chinese firm does not yet own any data centres locally, it is offering localised public cloud services from leased data centres through a Johannesburg-based partner.
To date, Huawei Cloud has four points of presence in Africa: two in SA, one in Nigeria and one in Kenya.
According to Mark Chen, Huawei Cloud, together with partner operations, has 65 availability zones in 22 regions, providing more than 200 cloud services.
“In 2019, we opened an availability zone in South Africa, as the first cloud service provider to do so. This year, we will launch the third availability zone in Johannesburg, which will enhance our business in this market and provide competitive service to our customers.”
Zhou noted that investment in public cloud is growing by 32%, while Huawei Cloud customers in SA increased by 150%, with revenue also increasing by 220%. In addition, the Huawei Cloud partner system in the local market grew by 80% in the past year.
“In future, I think we still need to do more…my target is to build a trusted cloud in South Africa, and this cloud can be trusted by South African organisations.”