Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Thought Provoking Read: Africa's Big Brother Lives in Beijing by John Reed

John Reed in an investigative piece on Foreign Policy contends that China might actually be spying on Africa. One of the question he possess is Is Huawei wiring Africa for surveillance? 
"Generally, most of the employees operating these systems are Chinese and the arrangements usually include delegating maintenance and decisions about future updates to Huawei as well, thus ensuring the Chinese firm's control of the basic technological architecture's foundation, evolution, and operations,"  - Chris Demchak, co-director of the Center for Cyber Conflict Studies at the U.S. Naval War College
Looking at this from a Kenyan perspective and given the happening on the ground this might actually be true. If you look at Safaricom the biggest player in telecommunications you will notice that it has close relationship with Huawei. One of the goals of Safaricom Ltd is to offer it's services to anyone and that means getting in agreements with Huawei which offers affordable phones to the base of pyramids. This agreements between Huawei and Safaricom usually extend to other areas apart from the hand-set market.

Also, sometime back I happened to have gone to an official launch at Kenya Broadcasting Corporation headquarters and I noticed most of the equipments and renovations of the state broadcaster were installed by the Chinese. This was during Kibaki administration who found a win win situation with the Chinese government. 

When one also looks at the Chinese Consulate in Kenya one will notice that they have a substantially huge complex which is next to Hurlingham plus another office dealing with trrade matters along Ngong Road. Certainly if the all countries snoop on each other but Chinese seem to be on the look out for new trade deals for their companies.

Also, looking at the Chinese benevolence in providing the African Union with a state of the art new headquarters in Ethiopia. This is the same building John Kerry the American Secretary of State marvelled upon in his first visit to AU headquarters. 
The Chinese certainly seem to have done their homework on the continent and now they unlike Americans do not need an African Drone Programme! 

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