United States tech companies failing to heave Trump’s stance on China
Horace C. White
Modern Tokyo Times
When U.S. President Donald Trump came into office, he left no one in doubt regarding his stance on China. Through actions, tweets, and utterances, President Trump sent out strong-worded messages that China has become U.S. arch rival. While the Chinese government appears perturbed by this development, it is apparent that its primary focus is helping Chinese firms build their global brands with Africa a strategic partner.
China making inroads on Africa
In exchange for massive infrastructure financing across the continent, China is making its way to Africa’s abundant natural resources. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, that narrative is outdated as a new trend has emerged. Indeed, the U.S. and Chinese tech giants are competing to take over the African market.
With the clear-cut objective to employ a private sector-driven strategy to capture the entire Africa market, Chinese tech firms are increasingly rolling out cutting-edge tech products. Consequently, Chinese tech companies such as ZTE, Tencent, Alibaba, Huawei, and Tecno are massively investing in African countries like Nigeria and Kenya.
China is taking over
Determined not to rest on their laurels, more and more Chinese tech companies are launching into the African space based on successes recorded by fellow Chinese firms. In September, the Forum on China-African Cooperation, a summit that seeks to deepen the bilateral relationship between Africa and China, attracted leading Chinese tech firms. Held in Beijing, the Forum on China-African Cooperation saw many Chinese tech firms strategizing on how to change the business calculus on the continent.
Today, internet penetration is deepening in Africa’s most advanced markets of South Africa and Nigeria. As a result, mobile phone penetration has hit a record high of 44%. Well, Chinese phone maker Transsion Holdings has led in the pack in this regard, working round the clock to control much of Africa’s smartphone market. Basically, statistics show that the smartphone maker sold more than 80 million pieces of the mobile phone in Africa in this year alone.
U.S. tech companies lag behind their Chinese counterparts
While China is resolute to become the de facto leader of the emerging market, there is no denying the fact that they are threatening U.S. tech companies in Africa. Nevertheless, there is still a glimmer of hope for these U.S. companies. In truth, one way to regain their position in the emerging market is for U.S. tech companies to reframe their grasp of China’s commercial foray in Africa. No doubt, tech-based retail giant Amazon, for instance, must focus on offering diversified and innovative products.
The competition becomes stiff
Already, both U.S. and Chinese tech companies are not new to the African tech space. For over two decades, U.S. tech giants such as IBM and Microsoft have made multimillion-dollar investments across the continent, targeting its digital infrastructure. In a similar vein, Chinese tech firms such as Huawei and ZTE have followed suit, building out a robust mobile network in Africa. Indeed, these investments have significantly contributed to the explosion of mobile telephony in African countries.
However, the biggest battle will certainly play out between the world’s leading e-commerce giants Amazon and Alibaba, which have a combined market cap of $1.5 trillion. In 2017, Alibaba founder Jack Ma pledged $10 million to kick off an African Young Entrepreneurship Fund. On the other hand, Amazon is progressing at a snail pace, but the online retailer has recently announced its launch in South Africa.
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