[JOHANNESBURG] Huawei Technologies Co, China's biggest maker of phone-network equipment, plans to double smartphone sales in east and southern Africa this year to 4 million as part of an expansion into international markets.
"This market is a virgin market, but the potential is huge," David Wang, Huawei's vice president for the region, said in an interview on Tuesday at a conference in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Mr Wang oversees operations in 25 countries including Kenya, East Africa's biggest economy, and South Africa.
Huawei was ranked fifth in global smartphone shipments during the third quarter of last year, according to researcher Strategy Analytics, and said in January it would boost overseas deliveries by a third to more than 100 million this year. Phone makers including Beijing-based L9enovo Group Ltd and Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp are also selling new devices in Africa to tap surging demand for more sophisticated handsets.
Huawei is working with the Zimbabwean government on a three-year, US$200 million project to expand the country's wireless coverage, according to Mr Wang. The Shenzhen, China-based company has no plans to start a manufacturing plant or make acquisitions in Africa, he said.
"Huawei is a hi-tech company, so we need more skilled people to make the devices," Mr Wang said. "Most of Huawei's products are produced in China, where we can find more students. The cost of labor is low."