Technological innovation in Africa is at the service of sustainable development goals

Executive Vice President

Huawei Northern Africa

Published on

Innovation and technological progress are essential to finding sustainable solutions to economic and environmental challenges, such as improving resource and energy efficiency. Investment in infrastructure can unleash dynamic and competitive economic forces that generate jobs and income. It plays a key role in introducing and promoting new technologies, facilitating international trade and optimising resources.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call to action for all countries to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognise that poverty eradication must go hand in hand with strategies that promote economic growth and address a range of social needs, including education, health, social protection and employment opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection. More important than ever, the goals provide a critical framework for post-pandemic recovery.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need to invest in connectivity

Sub-Saharan Africa has 456 million mobile subscribers, with a penetration rate of 44%, according to the GSMA[1]. Information and communication technologies have been at the forefront of the response to the health crisis. The crisis has accelerated the digitisation of many businesses and services, including teleworking and videoconferencing systems in and out of the workplace, as well as access to healthcare, education and essential goods and services.

As the pandemic reshapes the way we work, stay connected, go to school and shop, bridging the digital divide has never been more important. It is imperative to connect those who are still offline today, unable to access digital education, employment or essential health and hygiene advice. The UN’s Financing for Sustainable Development 2020 report proposes policy options to harness the potential of digital technologies.

For society and the environment, policymakers and the private sector must work together

When the pandemic is finally behind us, governments will need investment in infrastructure to accelerate economic recovery, create jobs, reduce poverty and stimulate productive investment. The World Bank estimates that developing countries need to invest about 4.5% of their GDP to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and, at the same time, limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius[2]. At the same time, improving coverage in remote areas and helping to bridge the digital divide is one of the biggest challenges facing the African ICT industry.

Quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and cross-border infrastructure, must therefore be developed to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all. By 2030, we must continue to upgrade Africa’s infrastructure to make it sustainable, by improving resource efficiency and adopting more environmentally friendly technologies. This means strengthening research and education for the continent’s youth, while improving innovative technological capabilities.

Digital companies are driving the future of the African continent

Asoko Insight, which works with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to create a robust database of corporate champions of sustainability, response and recovery, singled out Huawei Ethiopia for our actions to promote digital inclusion. The private sector has a big role to play in achieving these Sustainable Development Goals. Businesses must contribute to the socio-economic response and post-Covid-19 recovery in Africa, as the world aims to better rebuild after the pandemic. We at Huawei will continue to do so.

[1] The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2019 – GSMA Report-

[2] World Bank Report Beyond the Gap February 2019


By Philippe Wang,

Executive Vice President

of Huawei Northern Africa


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