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Zou Zhilei has been president of Huawei Technologies in the North Africa Region since 2010. He first joined Huawei back in 1997 as Huawei Office Director in Shenyang, from 2001-2002, before he was chief of the Indonesia branch. Starting from 2002, he filled several positions within Huawei Technologies in China. Since becoming president of the North Africa Region, Zou has presided over the robust growth of business and supported the launch of new divisions under the Huawei brand. Zou speaks to Capital about his company’s involvement in the education sector and other issues.

Capital: How do you describe the role of ICT in assuring education quality?
Zou Zhilei:
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been gradually changing the way we work, the way we live and, more importantly, the way we learn. In this golden age of technology, there is an increasing gap between those who have access to ICT and those who do not. Huawei aims to enhance the accessibility of ICT in order to bridge this digital divide, which is also an educational divide in many countries.
Many countries are progressing towards the goal of “Education for All”, but most struggle to achieve “Quality Teaching for All,” especially in rural or remote areas in developing countries. With the deployment of ICT in education, e-education opportunities create connected possibilities, where students in both rural and urban areas in various countries have the same opportunity to learn.
Nowadays, ICT is playing an increasingly important role in improving the quality of education. With ICT, mobile internet connection enables anyone to learn at anytime, anywhere. IP-based bearer networks also provide connectivity to every classroom and teaching facility on the campus. Through video learning portals, teachers can upload video curriculum content, allowing students to access e-learning at their convenience, and enabling the sharing of learning resources, while at the same time ensuring quality of content across various campuses or countries. Online interaction between teachers and students can also be achieved during live webcasts, where students can make use of ICT technology to engage in real-time interaction with teachers through a click of the “Ask Questions” button.
Capital: What ICT technologies does your company have at its disposal to support       education quality?
Zou:
As a leading global ICT solutions provider, Huawei has a full-range of products and solutions that enable e-Education from terminals and networks to cloud data centers and service enabling platforms.
Technological breakthroughs in education are creating fun, new learning environments that address subjects in exciting new ways, and improve students’ skills and competitiveness. To solve problems encountered during the construction of network-wide collaborative education systems, Huawei has launched its highly reliable and scalable integrated education solution that covers basic platforms and service applications, such as: Online-Learning Solution, which delivers traditional courseware in a more interactive and effective digital mode in order to improve retention; Interactive Classroom Solution, which provides interactive and effective learning and face-to-face communication between different cities, even different nations.
More importantly, Huawei works with various industry partners to establish an efficient e-education ecosystem, where close collaboration helps to improve the smooth delivery of customized e-Education solutions, ensuring the stability, connectivity and quality of the e-learning process.
Capital: Are these technologies present in Africa in general, and Ethiopia, in particular?
Zou:
Huawei has been working with local organizations on the deployment of e-Education solutions in Africa since 1999.
In Madagascar, Huawei has provided an e-Education solution, as well as education applications for the national data center and 75 multimedia classrooms across 6 universities.
In Ethiopia, Huawei is also working closely with Addis Ababa University; for instance, a few years ago, Huawei donated a 1 million dollar project to AAU and currently the entire university’s network is working with Huawei equipment. Moreover Huawei has won a bid and signed a contract to deploy cloud computing solutions, which is the cutting-edge technology around the world. In addition to that, AAU will soon implement Huawei’s IP Telephony project at one of its campuses.
Capital: How would these technologies help Ethiopia’s drive to bring quality education?
Zou:
With a comprehensive product and solution portfolio, Huawei can help Ethiopia to build an integrated and shareable learning platform that bridges the education gap between various regions.
For instance, mobile technology can create a ubiquitous network connection environment, where IP technology can connect all campuses and construct a campus network that enables connectivity, and multimedia classrooms for multimedia learning. Cloud data centers, cloud solutions, and high-end collaboration solutions can also help create a convenient learning platform, enabling the sharing of educational resources. 
Using a combination of mobile, IP and cloud technologies, Huawei can enable everyone in Ethiopia to learn with any device, anytime, anywhere and remain unaffected by limited local educational resources.
Capital: What are you doing to make these technologies known to the public?
Zou:
As a global ICT solutions provider, Huawei engages various channels and strategies to introduce the new developments of ICT technology to a relevant target audience. This includes engagement through online channels, such as the Huawei website and social media channels, in addition to traditional channels, through the production of brochures and advertisements.
Our current key focus is on helping various developing countries to bridge the digital divide, bringing them up to par with the new ICT technologies available. A key tactic in bridging the digital divide is through education, which is why Huawei is collaborating with partners and the governments of over 140 countries to develop new teaching curricula, scholarships and internships to raise students’ awareness of new technology developments in the field of ICT.
Capital:  How long has it been since Huawei entered the Ethiopian market?
Zou:
Huawei has been operating in Ethiopia for more than 10 years, since its first project with Ethio Telecom in 2003. To date, Huawei has helped train more than 1000 Ethiopian ICT experts through educational programs across the country. Huawei established its North Africa headquarters in Egypt, in 1999. We have offices across 24 countries including,  Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, with over 2000 employees, of which around 60% are hired locally.
Huawei has end-to-end capabilities and strengths across the carrier networks, enterprise, consumer and cloud computing fields. We are committed to creating maximum value for telecom carriers, enterprises and consumers by providing competitive ICT solutions and services.
Our vision is to enrich life through communication. By leveraging our experience and expertise in the ICT sector, we help bridge the digital divide, by providing opportunities to enjoy broadband services regardless of geographic location and contributing to the sustainable development of society, the economy and the environment.
Capital: Can you mention any major Huawei achievements in Ethiopia like its competitors?
Zou:
Since Huawei’s entry into Ethiopia in 2003, the company has provided quality products and services for various organizations including Ethio Telecom, government departments and several enterprises.
For instance, Huawei has worked on the large-scale deployment of digital fixed switches for Ethio Telecom in the country, access switches in Addis Ababa and various GSM sites in the Southern Region of Ethiopia.
Huawei has also provided a number of enterprise solutions to governmental offices and institutions across 13 ministries, as well as regional government departments in Ethiopia.
For over ten years, Huawei has accomplished remarkable achievements in North Africa. In the carrier market, Huawei ranks as the number one vendor in the North Africa region and remains in the lead with the highest market share, with nearly 60 percent market share in 3G, and nearly 50 percent market share in broadband access products. Huawei has established strategic partnerships with many top local operators in North Africa such as Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat, Zain, Maroc Telecom, and MTN,; becoming the best business partner for operators. In the enterprise field, Huawei achieved rapid growth, of more than 100% per year in North Africa. Based on third party brand research, Huawei enterprise brand awareness in Egypt reached 98% last year. In the terminal field, we had an almost 150% increase in our shipments year over year (YOY) through our close cooperation with channel partners and operators.
Capital: Can you describe Huawei’s global presence? What is its position in the global ICT market?
Zou:
Since our founding as a small switch manufacturer in 1987, Huawei has grown from a 2,500 USD enterprise into a global company with revenues of 32.4 billion USD and a presence in over 140 countries.
For the past 25 years, we have practiced a three-fold strategy: to ensure that we have a deep understanding of the needs of end users; a mechanism of fast response and delivery that is based on customers’ needs; and innovation leveraging cross-industry partners.
Today, Huawei is a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider and is ranked as one of the top-2 vendors globally. Our products and solutions have been deployed in over 140 countries, serving more than one third of the world’s population.
We have established 14 regional headquarters, 15 R&D centers, 25 joint innovation centers and 45 training centers worldwide.
Huawei has over 150,000 employees, among whom 46 percent are specialized in R&D. To optimize local operations and enhance user experience, 73 percent of our overseas employees are local recruits.
Huawei also supports mainstream international standards and contributes to the formulation of such standards. Now, Huawei had joined 150 industry standards organizations, holding more than 180 positions.
Through our dedication to customer-centric innovation and strong partnerships, we are committed to creating maximum value for telecom operators, enterprises and consumers by providing competitive ICT solutions and services. We will continue working to enhance the user experience, create maximum value for our customers, improve work efficiency, and most important of all, enrich life through communication.
Capital: What has Huawei contributed to education in Ethiopia?
Zou:
Huawei always believes in giving back to society. We insist on local operations and contribute to local welfare, education, and disaster relief efforts and being an ethical corporate citizen.
In the education field, we have cooperated with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education and some universities for many years. In the past 4 years, we have donated ICT equipment amounting to 100, 000 USD to Addis Ababa University; instruments amounting to 100, 000 USD to the Ethiopian National Association of the Blind; donated 160 PCs, 32 printers, and 32 UPS through the Ministry of Education to 32 remote high schools in Ethiopia and 10 pianos to Addis Ababa University Yared Musical School.
To encourage the best performing students, in 2011 we invited 22 college students from 11 regions in Ethiopia to visit China and the Huawei headquarters, and awarded laptops and data cards to the most excellent students in Ethiopia; and we have awarded 22 top female graduates and 8 students from emerging regional states at the 22nd Ethiopia’s National Training and Education Conference last week, with MediaPad, which is designed and produced by Huawei, with the world’s best performance.
To enhance the communication between China and Ethiopia, we have invited two groups of officials, school masters, teachers and students, more than 20 people, from the Ethiopian Ministry of Education and middle schools to Shanghai, China, to exchange ideas and gain experience in Education with China’s best high school – Shanghai High School.