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In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Steven Yi, President of Huawei Middle East and Central Asia, shared deeper insight into the company’s current initiatives which include pioneering ICT innovation and connectivity, shaping the future of digital networks, driving sustainable transformation, securing the digital realm and bridging the talent gap.

Huawei not only offers IT and telecom solutions but also offers ICT infrastructure and smart devices, globally. What value are you adding to the Middle East and Central Asia ICT industry?

The fast-growing digital economy— underpinned by digital and intelligent technologies— is a key driver of socio-economic development. Many industries are embracing advanced technologies, further accelerating digital transformation. We worked with carriers and partners across the Middle East and Central Asia to accelerate digital transformation and facilitate customers’ business success to prepare for an intelligent era.

Huawei is a leading global provider of ICT infrastructure and smart devices. We are working to push connectivity to its limits with products and solutions like 5G, simplified sites, 5G Core, best-in-class Wi-Fi 6, intelligent and lossless data center networks, intelligent optical network terminals, and green technologies. Having led the 5G revolution, Huawei is now spearheading the next connectivity evolution by actively collaborating with stakeholders to define 5G-Advanced (5G-A) use cases and push its commercialization.

Huawei Cloud continues to drive digital transformation across the region and now operates 84 availability zones across 30 regions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. it is becoming a preferred partner for customers who want to migrate to the cloud.

As digitalization and decarbonization are prioritized in line with the regional countries’ sustainability commitments, Huawei Digital Power leverages intelligent energy data to help achieve carbon neutrality.

Since the beginning, Huawei has nurtured a prosperous partner ecosystem for win-win outcomes, working with partners on solutions to promote the in-depth integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and industry scenarios and enable the intelligent transformation of various industries.

We are committed to leveraging our global expertise to drive business success and contribute to regional socio-economic development.

5G networks drive carriers' business, empower digital transformation, and build digital economies. GCC countries are among the global 5G leaders. What role does Huawei play in implementing networks and driving 5G implementation in the region?

Huawei is committed to supporting operators in achieving their transformation objectives. Our continuous investment in R&D has positioned us at the forefront of several ICT domains. For example, in 2023, we were the first to complete all 5G-A functional tests, paving the way for our innovative 5G-A products.

Middle Eastern operators are leading 5G-A development, building on their early adoption of 5G, which resulted in 17 commercial networks and over 26 million users, and significant growth in 5G home broadband and private line customers. These operators are now eyeing the robust connectivity of 5G-A. This next step includes a 10 gigabyte vision and exploring technologies like RedCap and PIoT, with 2024 poised as the year for 5G-A network commercialization.

Huawei launched the industry's first full-series solutions for 5G-A to help operators efficiently build 5G-A networks, thanks to continuous innovations across five categories of basic capabilities: broadband, multi-band, multi-antenna, intelligent, and green.

How does Huawei's ‘Everything as a Service’ (XaaS) approach contribute to the development of the Cloud Ecosystem and drive digital transformation across established industries?

Huawei Cloud continues its commitment to providing comprehensive cloud services, leveraging its expertise and cutting-edge technology to facilitate digital transformation for businesses worldwide. We launched Huawei Cloud Riyadh Region in 2023, obtaining the highest government data classification certification (Class C). This move enhances Huawei Cloud's technological capabilities, industry solutions, and ecosystem, promoting digital-led economic growth in the region.

Huawei Cloud introduced the Pangu Model 3.0, a first-of-its-kind commercial Arabic model that is trained with hundreds of billions of parameters, surpassing other models utilizing understanding and generation capabilities. Released in September 2023, it caters to specific industry needs, demonstrating Huawei Cloud's dedication to reshaping industries by combining AI capabilities with sector-specific knowledge.

Huawei Cloud's success is further amplified by its thriving partner ecosystem, which saw over 80 new enterprises joining in 2023, totaling 288 regional ecosystem partners. These partners generated over USD 10 million in revenue, a remarkable 230% YoY increase. We remain focused on supporting partners through training initiatives to enhance technical skills and competitiveness in cloud computing.

In line with the UN SDGs, sustainability and carbon neutrality are key parts of ICT future planning. Huawei introduced its Digital Power as a new business arm supporting enterprises in archiving their sustainability goals. What is your key input in this field for the region?

The Middle East is in the midst of a significant transition from oil- and gas-based power generation to green energy. Meanwhile, rapid digitization leads to higher power consumption for ICT infrastructure. According to our predictions, power consumed by global data centers and sites will reach 950 and 660 billion kWh by 2025, accounting for about 3% of total global power consumption.

Net zero is a regional imperative, and Huawei is working with regional partners to increase the use of green energy, improve power consumption efficiency, promote green energy development, and achieve energy conservation, emission reduction, and OpEx savings.

Huawei Digital Power integrates digital and power electronics technologies, develops clean power, and enables energy digitalization for a better, greener future. With long-term R&D investment in digital and power electronics technologies, we aim to accelerate clean energy generation; build green transportation, sites, and data centers; and contribute to zero-carbon buildings, campuses, and cities.

Our Net Zero Campus and carbon-conscious ICT business models are unique industry propositions that were developed to support other regional industries and governments in achieving sustainability commitments in line with national targets and the UN SDGs.

How is Huawei responding to the growing cybersecurity challenge in the region amidst increasing digital transformation and expanding connections and applications?

As the world becomes more interconnected, digital, and intelligent, cyberspace has become an integral part of our life, business, and economy. As digital technologies like cloud computing, big data, AI, and 5G create unprecedented new value for society, we are also becoming increasingly vulnerable.

For over 30 years, we have worked with carriers to build over 1,500 networks and helped millions of enterprises go digital. We continue to prioritize cybersecurity and privacy protection and are committed to confronting cybersecurity and privacy challenges and seizing related opportunities through management transformation, technological innovation, and open collaboration. We recognize cyber security risk as a shared responsibility, as no single organization has what it takes to tackle the complex, diverse, and evolving threats.

We will continue collaborating with governments, enterprises, research organizations, and others to minimize cybersecurity threats and build a trustworthy digital environment to meet today's and tomorrow's challenges. Collaborating openly with the cybersecurity ecosystem stakeholders in the region such as ITU, GSMA, 3GPP and local regulators is important to ensure ongoing innovations in the cyber security domain, promoting standards development, conducting joint innovation, and applying the best practices such as the GSMA Network Equipment Security Assurance Scheme (NESAS).

Huawei was the first multinational technology corporation to join OIC-CERT in 2021— reinstating our commitment to supporting our regional partners as they drive 5G security standardization and international practices.

Talent is globally identified as a key driver of the ICT industry's future. The vibrant talent pool in the region is on the lookout for global companies' CSR programs to direct and back it up. What is Huawei doing to bridge the digital talent divide in the region?

Developing ICT talent is one of the biggest priorities of the 21st century, especially for the continued development of our digital-led economies. The global digital skills gap affects national economies and individual lives, causing countries to miss billions of dollars in GDP growth.

Talent remains a key part of our ecosystem-building approach in the region. We are committed to building talent alliances, developing standards, improving skills, and promoting the value of talent. To promote an open, healthy, and sustainable ecosystem for talent cultivation and knowledge exchange, we’ve actively collaborated with UNESCO, government authorities, colleges, and universities to help identify, support, and grow the future ICT leaders across the Middle East and Central Asia.

Our flagship initiatives and programs, like the Huawei ICT Competition and the Huawei Seeds for the Future, deliver value to the global digital economy. Through such initiatives, we can empower the youth with the latest knowledge on cutting-edge technologies and allow them to learn firsthand the necessary skills required to become well-rounded and successful ICT professionals in the future.

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