Among the world leaders in the digital ecosystem with several services on their own, Huawei maintains its forward-looking approach to promoting the digital economy. To discover the secret of the success of this important high-tech player in Morocco, MAROC DIPLOMATIC interviewed Chakib Achour, Marketing and Strategy Director of Huawei Technologies in Morocco.
In this interview, Chakib Achour discusses the strategy, the digital ecosystem, the market, the investments as well as the relationships between Huawei and its various partners, especially the institutional ones.
LMaroc Diplomatique: Mr. Achour, can you go back to the highlights of your professional career?
– Chakib Achour: After graduating from the École Normale Sup de Cachan in France and the École des Arts et Métiers in Paris with a major in telecommunications, I have accumulated over 20 years of experience in designing and implementing digital transformation strategies in telecommunications and industry sectors in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
I had the opportunity to work in large multinationals before joining Huawei. Thanks to my long experience in the field of customer relations and “Business Development”, integrating direct / indirect sales, project management as well as managing large international customers, I was able to take on the responsibilities that I was entrusted with and carry the my know-how. I also specialize in the fields of cloud computing and business-oriented IT innovation. All this without neglecting, of course, the underlying application fields which are in fact the approaches to creativity supported by Agile practices.
LWe note an offensive by Huawei in Morocco with agreements with various public and para-public institutions. What are the challenges that Huawei faces to assert his leadership in the Kingdom?
– At Huawei, and to assist our customers in their digital transformation, we use a sort of framework whose basis consists in the training of digital talents, but also in working on the various facilitators of this transformation (investments, incentives, etc.). Above this base are the infrastructures that are the ICTs necessary for digital transformation (connectivity, data center, big data, cloud, AI, etc.). Once this infrastructure is in place, it becomes more necessary than ever to define adequate regulation in terms of data exchange and governance, but also of open data, as well as the deployment of a national strategy for high debt. On the latter point, it is strongly recommended that a country like Morocco has a good broadband connection, generalized to the entire national territory and within the reach of all citizens. All these conditions allow startups, but also e-govs, hospitals, smart cities, etc., to access use cases that are important for digital transformation. It is on all these sites that Huawei is able to intervene and create value for its partners and customers.
LWhat change has the Covid-19 crisis brought to the digital level? What is Huawei’s influence in the digital world in Morocco?
– The Covid-19 health crisis has revealed to us the importance that digital has and will have to ensure the proper functioning of the economy by minimizing the risks to the health of fellow citizens. In these difficult times, the role of telecommunications has never been more important. They are essential for maintaining a semblance of normality in a social and business environment affected by Covid-19.
All experts confirm that this type of pandemic will recur frequently and that the world will have to learn to live avoiding the mistakes and consequences we have known.
Only a move towards a digital economy and nations will reduce and minimize the shocks we are experiencing. We can see it as a challenge, but I prefer to see it as an opportunity to launch a new development model with a digital dimension.
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This digital transformation will first have to go through the acceleration of the deployment of next-generation ultra-high-speed telecommunications networks, whether fixed or mobile. This is to allow the deployment of new uses necessary for the economic transformation of our nation towards the fourth industrial revolution, the digital economy.
Our company, with its experience and know-how, joins the efforts of the Moroccan government to support and stimulate the digital transformation of Morocco and provide its various stakeholders with open, flexible and secure ICT infrastructures. Huawei wants to be a strategic partner in the digital transformation of Morocco and is committed to continuing to serve the Moroccan market with a cutting-edge, adapted and highly qualitative offer.
LAs a major high-tech player in Morocco, what program do you have to support startups but also the government in their digital transformation?
– We have created a free platform in Morocco called Huawei ICT Academy. This makes it possible to train people in different areas related to new technologies (IP network, 5G, big data, cloud, storage, etc.). Today we train about 7,000 Moroccan talents who can also be certified digitally thanks to this platform and quickly become operational in the professional world. We also plan to launch a program called Spark in a few months, which will help develop the digital ecosystem in Morocco. This program relies on technical and financial support for start-ups for a period of up to 6 months to help them develop. A Huawei expert can, for example, support these companies on any issue. We hope that the government will adhere massively to this program, but also to other actors in the private sector.
LFrom your travels around the world, as part of your missions, can you give us an inventory of national digital infrastructures compared to other countries?
– In Huawei we were able to identify 3 major trends: the first concerns the most advanced digital countries (such as Singapore, for example, the United Kingdom, some Scandinavian countries, etc.). The second concerns the “adopting” countries (such as some Asian countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, etc.). The third trend, for its part, concerns countries that have just started digital: this group is composed of two categories of countries, in this case those that are at the top of the group (Morocco and Turkey for example, etc.) and those which are at the bottom of the group.
LHuawei has worked on many indices and data such as connectivity and confidence index. Can you tell us about these projects? What is the added value for Huawei and for consumers?
– To draw a picture of the situation of digital transformation and digital maturity in different regions of the world, Huawei mainly uses a methodology called the Global Connectivity Index. It covers 86% of the countries of the world and is based on the measurement of 40 indicators, including fixed broadband by country, the level of fixed and mobile connectivity, the number of start-ups, the use of smartphones, development of talents, amounts used in R&D, etc. These indicators provide a fairly accurate idea of the digital maturity of each country.
LHow is the brand positioned in the local market? Where is Huawei in the field of investments in Morocco?
– Since our foundation in Morocco in 1999, our company has managed to build a solid and stable model of collaboration with national operators. Our partnership has built up year after year and now extends to almost all of their businesses. Our company is committed to providing the best support to telecom operators, successfully meeting their specific expectations and challenges. We were pioneers in seizing the wave of digital transformation in Morocco by building the first B2B cloud with a national operator, an infrastructure that offers new and sustainable growth prospects. Huawei has become the leading supplier of ICT equipment in Morocco.
Furthermore, through our Enterprise Business Group division, we provide cutting-edge ICT technologies, solutions and services adapted to all our partners, be they government institutions or even small, medium or large companies. For example, Huawei supported ONCF for the deployment of Africa’s first high-speed train, the TGV. The technology used, GSM-R, is a standard that has established itself in Europe. It is a private network dedicated to ground-train communications.
Furthermore, our company is positioned as a national reference point in the Data Center market, a market with strong growth potential. We support government actors, telecom operators and public and private sector companies in creating open, flexible, resilient and secure platforms within which our partners can develop and thrive. Our national references are numerous. For example, we set up the first university data center for high-performance computing in Morocco.
In Morocco, we are guided by a well-defined strategic vision which is to support the Moroccan government in its digital transformation process and to stimulate the digital transformation of all industries.
LToday, the competition is focused on research and development. What is your strength in this sector? What are Huawei’s latest innovations?
– The crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has changed our way of life and our way of consuming, but innovation is at the heart of all Huawei’s strategies, it is our spearhead.
Huawei pursues a broad research and development policy, with continuous investments. Furthermore, we are the fifth largest investor in R&D worldwide with 142.7 billion CNY, or approximately 22.4 billion dollars recorded in 2021. This demonstrates the importance of such an investment, which aims to meet the needs of our partners, bringing the best of digital technology.
Huawei, with its vision and expertise, is committed to a constant innovation process that provides local populations with cutting-edge ICT technologies and infrastructures.
It is important to note that the cloud is our new investment niche for promoting access to digital technologies. We advocate the use of government-level sovereign cloud and hybrid cloud for businesses of all sizes. Our cloud technologies are starting to have an ever stronger adoption rate. In addition, over the past two years, our Huawei cloud offering has seen the most significant growth in the global cloud market with growth of over 200%, which demonstrates an exceptional acceptance rate.
* Chakib Achour, Marketing and Strategy Director of Huawei Technologies in Morocco.