Ehuden Be EBS Asfaw and Rakeb
Who thought that US President Donald Trump’s vow to bring balance to the “unfair” trade deals with China would eventually reach into the pockets of an African carrying one of Huawei’s smartphone?
What started as election campaign propaganda with the alleged American “job theft” by the Chinese, the US-China muscle flexing showdown is now unveiling its ugly face on the global consumer. Unlike the smooth beginning of a general steel imports tariff on all traders with the US, the trade war between the two powers narrowed down to a tit for tat type retaliations of levied tariffs on imports. Now USD 200 billion worth of imports from China face tariffs of 25 percent to 10 percent.
Discussion between President Trump and President Xi Jinping did not work out despite a round of talks that began at Mar-a-Lago estate and reinforced in Beijing.
Although various companies from both sides have been victim of this trade war between the two elephants, the last one to get a treat from the wrath was Huawei. It was actually foreseeable as President Trump has been criticizing the Chinese number two smartphone maker which also ventured into the new technology – 5G network.
Trump alleged that Huawei is a security threat to the US eventually banning Huawei from any activity in the 5G network infrastructure construction. Despite the President’s call for US allies to take similar measures, secret leaks from one of the loyal US associates, the United Kingdom, showed that the UK does not intend to ban Huawei from the deployment of 5G network.
But all this discussion was too distant for most of African nations like Ethiopia until President Trump blacklisted Huawei eventually banning device sales in the US. And, as US companies have to comply with this Order, Huawei’s mobile operating system provider, Google, announced halting its links with Huawei and announced that it severed its relations with Huawei; the second best Android phones seller around the world.
It was in the second quarter of 2018 that Huawei became the second top smartphone vendor overtaking a place held by America’s own Apple Inc. maker of the iPhone. Currently, Huawei stands at second place following Samsung which shipped a total of 59 million and 71 million devices worldwide respectively in the first quarter of the year 2019. Apple shipments were 36 million units. While Samsung saw a decline of 8.1 percent in its shipment volume, and Apple a staggering 30.2 percent decline, Huawei exhibited a year over year growth of 50 percent giving it 19 percent of the market share. Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo brands of China are in the list up to number six according to IDC Corporate, USA.
This is, according to some commentators, the reason for President Trump to ban Huawei to protect the American company from the fierce market competition.
Following this ban, Android owners across the world were in shock and even started to ask what to do with their device. Ethiopia is no exception in this regard.
According to Ethio Telecom, there are 35.44 million active mobile subscribers in Ethiopia. Out of this, 31 percent or 12.4 million are high end smartphones. Basic phones stand high at the share of 50 percent. Ninety two percent of these smartphones run Android while about five percent run Symbian and 2.3 percent phones run iOS.
Stat counter, a global statistics agency, puts Samsung at the forefront in the Ethiopian market. The South Korean company has a market share of 35.7 percent in Ethiopia followed by Huawei at 17.94 percent. Tecno follows with 13.7 percent market share and Apple stands last at 3.6 percent market share.
So, this implies that, Android’s departure from Huawei is a concern for users in Ethiopia too. “Even though Huawei users might not feel the immediate effect of the ban, they eventually might have problems with future android updates,” comments Biruk Hailye, a former IT engineer at one of Huawei’s wing in Ethiopia which works on telecom network installation.