The CEO of Orange said on Wednesday that it would avoid using the equipment from Chinese suppliers when developing European 5G networks due to European companies’ concerns about large Chinese enterprises, but there is no problem in cooperating with Huawei in Africa. Huawei, as an equipment supplier for many telecom operators, occupies a dominant position in the industry.
“We are deepening the cooperation with Chinese suppliers in Africa, not because we like China, but because we have a good business relationship with Huawei,” Stephane Richard said during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday.
He noted that Chinese manufacturers are investing heavily in Africa, while European manufacturers are still hesitating.
The governments of Europe have tightened their grip on Chinese companies building 5G networks, often under pressure from Washington. Some countries, such as the UK and Sweden, have completely banned Chinese suppliers, while others have encouraged telecom operators to choose European suppliers.
Ericsson and Nokia have been steadily taking market share from Huawei. At the end of 2020, Orange’s branch in Belgium decided to gradually replace Huawei’s equipment with that from Nokia. “We need time and additional investment to establish new independent networks with multiple suppliers. But the fact is that it has become increasingly difficult to develop 5G networks with Chinese suppliers in Europe,” Richard said.
Orange’s CEO also expressed a willingness to use equipment from South Korea’s Samsung, which he described as an alternative under European concerns.
Earlier this month, Vodafone signed a contract with Samsung which is trying to enter a market dominated by Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.