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Europe missing €155 billion to meet connectivity aims – Huawei CEO

Huawei Ken Hu

Huawei has once again set out its stall in the digital transformation camp, however it shown its pessimistic side with a couple of warnings to Europe.

Speaking at Huawei’s European Innovation day, Rotating CEO Ken Hu gave us a few clues as to the giant’s bets for the future. As you would expect, digital transformation and artificial intelligence were pinned as the drivers for the digital economy, but perhaps there was a warning; don’t get ahead of yourselves or be cheap.

“Demand for digital is real and is quite urgent,” said Hu. “For innovators and consumers, they are looking for emerging technologies like HD video or VR and AR. As a consumer we enjoy the convenience of car sharing and mobile banking, and we don’t want to worry about coverage.”

If digital is key for Europe to remain competitive in the future, then Hu highlighted a couple of worrying statistics.

Firstly, coverage in Europe is still amazingly low in comparison to some of the more advanced economies worldwide, such as Korea or Japan. Whereas they are almost guaranteeing coverage, we still have 60% of rural customers who are not able to experience 30 Mpbs internet speeds.

Another worrying comparison is that 2020 89% of the jobs in Europe will require digital skills. This is not a surprising statistic, but Hu claims 14% of Europeans have never used the internet. Will these individuals be ready for the digital economy? For Hu, one of the most important factors of the future is enabling opportunities for everyone. If this statistic proves to be true, Europe is failing for the moment.

The final statistic, which is proved to be accurate should be terrifying for those singing the praises of European businesses. To meet connectivity goals, investments in the European market would have to exceed €500 billion, however UHuHuawei believes the current shortfalls are in excess of €155 billion. That is a huge sum, which would essentially cripple any innovation or global competitiveness ambitions.

Now, let’s be clear. These are estimates, but it wouldn’t surprise us if the figures were anywhere near these numbers. The perception that Europe is bottom of the pile is there for a reason. It is a worrying position to be in, but not the end of the world for the moment.

“There needs to be a more supportive policy to encourage more investment,” said Hu.

Hu didn’t directly accuse anyone of inhibiting the drive towards the digital economy, but it wouldn’t be difficult to make assumptions. We’re not going to, but if the unnamed party (**COUGH COUGH EUROPEAN COMMISSION **) does not make changes, to become more agile and encourage private investment, Europe will remain at the bottom of the pile for a very long time.

Some people might point out that it is easy to blame rule makers and legislators. But there is only so many times you can hear the same thing without starting to believe it. One of my favourite quotes is from the movie ‘Lucky Number Slevin’, which I think is quite applicable here:

Slevin: Listen, I’ve been hearing that a lot lately…

The Rabbi: [interrupting] My father used to say ‘The first time someone calls you a horse you punch him on the nose, the second time someone calls you a horse you call him a jerk but the third time someone calls you a horse, well then perhaps it’s time to go shopping for a saddle.’

Over the last couple of weeks, we have heard from Orange (click here), Nokia (click here) and now Huawei, that something is not right at policy level and the Europeans will suffer because of it. Whether the warnings are heard remains to be seen, though we are sceptical considering the form of the stubborn bureaucrats.

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