GIG: Huawei entered the Greek ICT sector in 2005, and has since established a leading presence across a number of segments ranging from the provision of high-speed telephony networks across to the sale of smartphones. Can you provide us with an overview of your activities in Greece?
Chen: Huawei Greece is a digital leader that provides solutions across different fields: from 5G through to consumer and enterprise products across to solar and power solutions. We provide a series of innovative technological practices and services that enhance the country’s transition to the digital age and further drive the economic development of Greece.
In Greece, Huawei has more than 120 employees and over 80% of them are locals. We achieved revenue of approximately €143 million in 2020. Our main focus is helping Greek society accelerate its digital transformation, while continuously supporting young, local ICT talents in the country.
GIG: What impact do Huawei’s activities have on the Greek economy? In what way is Huawei supporting Greece’s digitisation efforts?
Chen: Our operations have grown vastly in Greece during the past five years, which has made a notable contribution to the Greek economy. In fact, Huawei commissioned Oxford Economics to assess and quantify its economic contribution to Greece in 2019. In total, in 2019 Huawei’s operations across Europe supported an overall contribution to Greek GDP of €36.4 million. The firm’s contribution to the Greek economy has increased significantly in recent years, recording an average annual growth rate of 10.5% between 2015 and 2019, while the total number of jobs supported by Huawei in Greece was 600. At the same time, Huawei supported €26.6 million in tax receipts in Greece in 2019, which is roughly equivalent to the average salaries for 1,100 Greek teachers.
Our aim is to bring digital to every person, home, and organisation for a fully connected, intelligent world.
Huawei Greece has significantly contributed to the digital transformation of its customers in critical market segments of both the public and private sectors.
For example, in the tourism industry Huawei Greece has delivered numerous projects to hotels and resorts related to network infrastructure construction. In addition, Huawei has strengthened many companies in the areas of finance, energy, and manufacturing by improving their efficiency through innovative technology solutions. We will continue to accelerate digital development with our partners, by bringing about technological innovation, realising ecosystem cooperation, and promoting knowledge sharing.
GIG: How has the pandemic impacted the way Huawei does business, both globally and in Greece? What does this mean with respect to the company’s priorities going forward?
Chen: As the world grapples with COVID-19, Huawei’s global supply chain is being put under intense pressure and its production and operations face significant challenges. We, and our suppliers, are working closely together to address the tough challenges facing production and to resume operations. At the same time, the COVID-19 outbreak has been a severe test for global public health systems. Therefore, Huawei is doing everything in its capabilities to help carriers ensure stable and secure network operations both globally and in Greece. Together, we are working to meet the network demand created by social distancing as people switch to telecommuting, distance education, and e-commerce for daily necessities.
The pandemic also reminds us that information and communication technologies (ICT) have become not only a crucial tool for combating the public health crisis, but also an engine for economic recovery.
Moving forward, Huawei will leverage its strengths in ICT technologies such as AI, cloud, 5G, and computing to provide scenario-based solutions, develop industry applications, and unleash the value of 5G networks along with its partners. We are especially committed to supporting the medical, educational, tourism, and energy sectors, in addition to public services, in achieving their digital transformation. Huawei’s mission is to expand the benefits of technology to everyone, everywhere.
GIG: Which areas of your activities do you believe pose the greatest potential for future growth?
Chen: As most people know we operate in the sectors of carrier, enterprise and consumer business offering innovative, top market ICT solutions and products to our customers. Although these sectors have great potential for future growth I would say that the energy sector has impressive potentialities. Worldwide Huawei is committed to leading energy digitalisation for a smart and sustainable world, by delivering smart Digital Power solutions including but not limited to Smart PV, EV Charging Infrastructure and Data Centre Facilities.
Many countries in the world have already committed to achieving net zero emissions within a certain timeframe, as this is one of the most significant milestones in the fight against global warming and climate change in the last 40 years. The Greek government set out targets for 35% of energy to derive from renewable energy sources by 2030, and we believe the Greek energy market has impressive potential. So, we have strengthened our local presence to efficiently respond to the tremendous growth of this sector and we are strongly positioned in the new era of the Greek solar and energy storage market.
Our cooperation with MYTILINEOS for the supply of innovative and reliable Huawei string inverters for PV plants allows us to be actively part of the largest PV plant portfolios worldwide.
Energy is a critical element to build our digital economy. As such, I believe that technology can help us drive positive change and deliver a digital and sustainable future. We believe green investments will definitely assist in Greece’s digital transformation. This will significantly accelerate the deployment of technology and Huawei is always ready to partner with Greece for a brighter joint future.
GIG: A number of steps have been recently taken towards the deployment of next generation fixed, mobile, and internet services in Greece, while efforts are also heavily focused on upscaling the country’s digital performance. What is your assessment of Greece’s digital landscape? What improvements /changes would you like to see?
Chen: One of the main pillars of Greece’s development is its telecommunications infrastructure which is expected to have a catalytic effect on the penetration of new technologies in production mechanisms and society. This will determine the pace of the country’s transition into the new digital age.
The evolution of Greece’s network from 4G to 5G is in the agenda of different stakeholders. The framework for the development of 5G will eventually result in business value and ICT infrastructure development in key sectors such as tourism, health, agriculture or energy. In this manner, ICT will play a key role in the Greek economy, contributing to growth in the post-pandemic era.
At the same time, we cannot overemphasise the fact that ICT skills are of equal importance as the upscaling of the country’s digital performance.
Enabling equal access to connectivity everywhere in Greece is the first step in bridging the digital divide. The second step is enabling universal access to ICT skills. To truly benefit from the digital era, businesses and countries must invest in digital upskilling and provide digital skills training for all.
To that end, Huawei Greece remains committed to the Greek market being customer centric and offering state of the art ICT products and services to assist in the country’s financial and digital transformation.
GIG: A key focus of Greece’s development agenda moving forward is green and digital investments. What opportunities does Greece’s digital transformation, the expansion of its networks, and the deployment of 5G infrastructure present for Huawei?
Chen: Green and digital investments will definitely contribute to Greece’s transformation. To be more specific, the food industry, tourism, and e-commerce are some examples of where various digital providers have offered their services to boost the digital transformation.
Spectrum auctions that have already been completed, willingness and initiatives to cover network demands, simplification of procedures, and the provision of better ICT solutions during and after the pandemic are undoubtedly important initiatives that will be reflected not only in the fields of telecoms and the ICT sector, but in the economic outlook of the country in general.
While the use of 5G networks will be very wide and will cover almost all areas, this primarily concerns the digital economy.
5G will allow for the existence of digitalised production lines and will bring a greater involvement of automated systems. And of course, we expect a massive development regarding the Internet of Things.
In the process, we will have the opportunity to work with carriers, our suppliers, and partners to explore and realise Greece’s industry transformation and digitalisation, especially in the tourism, energy, and public sectors. We will not only collaborate with big techs, but we also hope to cooperate with start-ups to achieve more digital development and enhance the digital industrial competitiveness of Greece. Creating a joint win-win scenario and greater technological cooperation with more local partners are always part of Huawei’s commitment. Together, we will cooperate well to make transformation happen.
GIG: What efforts is Huawei undertaking to ensure the security of is networks?
Chen: As digital transformation initiatives accelerate across the world, we have a clear responsibility to ensure that cyber security and privacy protection remain a top priority.
Building and fully implementing an end-to-end global cyber security assurance and privacy protection system is one of Huawei’s most crucial strategies. We are referencing industry best practices to build a system that is sustainable, reliable, and compliant with applicable laws and international telecom standards. This system covers everything from policies, organisational structures, processes, and management to technologies and standard practice. We are addressing cyber security and privacy needs by incorporating best practices into our processes, baselines, policies, and rules. This makes cyber security and privacy protection central to Huawei’s daily operations.
Moreover, our products and solutions have been through the toughest security evaluations over the years. They are certified by European security laboratories (ATSEC, ERNW etc.). We also currently have three cybersecurity centres in Europe (UK, Brussels and Berlin) and soon one in Italy, which allow us to review our source code.
Over the past three decades, we have maintained a solid track record in security throughout. And we will continue to work with European governments and industry to develop common standards to strengthen the security and reliability of the network. We would be very glad to support Greece in formulating open and competitive 5G market access standards. As always, we welcome any non-biased and fact-based cyber security requirements based on clear and verifiable technical standards, as well as open and transparent approval procedures.
GIG: Which sectors of the Greek economy do you believe pose the greatest potential to benefit from 5G?
Chen: Next-generation networks bring a lot of new capabilities and possibilities, from the industrial use of IoT (Internet of Things) through households to individual end-users. Their development and onset, which is already taking place today, brings the so called “evolution“. This includes Industry 4.0, the management of smart cities, intelligent transport systems, including automated and autonomous mobility, e-learning and the entire ecosystem including the regular users of 5G. But there is much more.
5G Networks bring digitisation, as well as artificial intelligence.
Whereas upon hearing the term 5G a regular user imagines faster and more stable internet, the reality is precariously close to that known from popular sci-fi. 5G technologies represent a dramatic change not only in the way devices connect to the network, but especially in how they can communicate with each other.
New generation networks will be gradually deployed by the world’s largest businesses. Private 5G will be used by companies in industry, logistics or shipping, fields where Greece has a competitive advantage. Corporate IoT solutions together with the arrival of 5G will significantly transform the entire business sector. For example, in terms of the energy sector, 5G could promisingly increase production efficiency through digitisation, while transforming the sector into digital management.
GIG: What would you say is the biggest advantage of operating in Greece? How does Greece’s participation in the 17+1 initiative impact Huawei’s business activities? What are your expectations regarding the recent EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and in what way (if at all) will this affect your business plans in the country?
Chen: We are very grateful that Greece has always been open and transparent to all companies, providing us with the great opportunity to participate in Greece’s economic development over the years. We will continue to seek to innovate and offer the Greek market top solutions and products by investing not only in the present, but even more in the future with the ultimate goal of bringing all those benefits of a fully connected intelligent world to more people, households, and businesses.
Greece’s participation in the 17+1 initiative has deepened the cooperation and trust between China and Greece, and the recent EU-China Comprehensive Agreement could definitely witness a strengthened partnership, which will further lay the foundations of Huawei’s comprehensive and sustainable development in the country. Huawei is always ready to partner with Greece for a brighter joint future.