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Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Britain on Tuesday gave the green light to a limited role for Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in the country’s 5G network, in a decision it said was necessary for developing its future digital economy.

But its choice also left the United States “disappointed” after its called for a total ban was ignored by both England and the EU.

Even though London decided that “high risk vendors” would be excluded from Britain’s “sensitive” core infrastructure, a US official insisted there was “no safe option for untrusted vendors to control any part of a 5G network”, which offers almost instantaneous data transfer.

Washington has banned Huawei from the rollout of the fifth generation mobile network because of concerns that the firm could be under the control of Beijing, an allegation it strongly denies.

The announcement came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepared to meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week for talks in London likely to focus on Huawei and as Britain looks for a trade deal with Washington after Brexit.

The United States had threatened to limit intelligence-sharing with London in the event of Huawei winning a UK role. Some analysts assessed approval for the Chinese firm could affect any future UK-US trade deal.

But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told parliament: “Nothing in this review affects this country’s ability to share highly sensitive intelligence data over highly secured network.

“GCHQ (Britain’s cybersecurity agency) have categorically confirmed that how we construct our 5G and full-fibre public telecoms network has nothing to do with how we share classified data.”

London’s decision — following a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by Johnson — came shortly after Brussels said it would also allow Huawei a limited 5G role in the European Union.

Brussels and London are both grappling to find a middle way to balance Huawei’s huge dominance in the 5G sector with security concerns.

“We want world-class connectivity as soon as possible but this must not be at the expense of our national security,” said Britain’s Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan.

“High risk vendors never have been and never will be in our most sensitive networks,” she stressed.

Huawei welcomed the news that it would have at least a part in building Britain’s 5G networks.

“Huawei is reassured by the UK government’s confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G roll-out on track,” said Huawei Vice-President Victor Zhang.

Meanwhile Brussels also ruled out banning the company. A top EU official said instead it was “a question of laying down rules”.

“They will be strict, they will be demanding and of course we will welcome in Europe all operators who are willing to apply them,” the official said.

Huawei is widely viewed as providing the most advanced alternative for super-fast data transfers behind technologies such as self-driving cars and remotely operated factory robots.

Existing providers of limited 5G network infrastructure in Britain include Nokia and Ericsson, while non-core elements are counted as antennae and base stations attached to masts and roofs.

A number of UK mobile phone operators, including EE and Vodafone, currently sell 5G services — but it is so far available only in a handful of cities, notably London and Birmingham.

Published in World

Australian scientists at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity announced that they have recreated the deadly coronavirus in order to find a cure.

The breakthrough announcement made by researchers in Melbourne on Wednesday, is expected to quicken the creation of a vaccine.

Doherty Institute Deputy Director, Mike Catton told reporters that they will share the sample which was grown from an infected patient with the World Health Organization and laboratories around the world.

He said; “We’ve planned for an incident like this for many, many years and that’s really why we were able to get an answer so quickly. This is a step, it’s a piece of the puzzle that we have contributed.”

The recent coronavirus outbreak has killed over 132 people in China and infected close to 6,000 after the flu-like virus broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. Though no death has been reported outside China, there are at least 47 cases confirmed in 16 other countries including in Thailand, France, the United States of America and Australia.

While Chinese authorities said the virus can be transmitted during its incubation period, WHO insisted that it remains unclear whether it is contagious before symptoms appear. WHO added that the incubation period can range from two to 10 days.

Commenting on how the virus is being transmitted, Dr. Catton said; “An antibody test will enable us to retrospectively test suspected patients so we can gather a more accurate picture of how widespread the virus is, and consequently, among other things, the true mortality rate.

“It will also assist in the assessment of the effectiveness of trial vaccines” he explained.

Published in World

The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has called for urgent attitudinal change within the country’s regulatory bodies to enhance Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) framework.

Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, ACCI President, made the call on Tuesday in Abuja at the Ease of Doing Business conference organised by Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria (AHK-Nigeria).

Nigeria is ranked 131 among 190 economies on the World Bank latest global Ease of Doing Business index.

Kayode said that government should ensure that key regulators were proactive, adding that existing regulatory framework for the EoDB had hindered and weakened economic prosperity and growth in the country.

Speaking on ‘Regulatory Framework and Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria’, Kayode said that business operators with reliable data were also coming up with scary reports.

He listed some of the scary reports to include the relocation of companies, failed businesses, delay and failure by some regulatory bodies to give prerequisite support or approval in the sector, among others.

“Government agencies should transform from regulators to business facilitators as well as put an end to complicated paperwork, which aids corruption, to give room for automation of business approval processes.

“There should be access to capital, consolidation of multiple charges, inspections, single-digit business loan, the government should allow the private sector to run businesses and only grant facilitation to grow the economy,” he said.

He noted that the Federal Government policy on EoDB has recorded many successes, by placing the issue of the hostile business environment in the front burner of public discourse.

“It is regrettable to note, however, that regulatory environment remains harsh and hostile with no sign of easing,” he said.

According to him, most regulators operate from a socialist mindset that sees business as a hindrance, rather than a pivotal plank of the society.

The ACCI president added that most regulators lacked a clear understanding of how market forces operated or deliberately neglected the role of production cost, product prices and competition in the life of a business.

He advised that the Nigerian Customs Service should be reformed and its activities automated to remove grey areas for competition and efficiency.

Mrs Edirin Akemu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, while encouraging regulators to be facilitators, listed expectations of business operators on the regulatory framework of EoDB.

Akemu noted equal market access, value transparency on decision making and operations, incentives administration, removal of uncertainties, access to resolution and intervention as some measures expected by operators for business to thrive.

Katharina Felgenhauer, Delegate, AHK-Nigeria, said that the Germans were working with its commercial affiliate and Nigerian companies in fostering business relations, hence the EoDB conference.

According to her, the delegation represented German business interest in Nigeria, while under International Business Services Ltd., AHK Nigeria offered services to companies to support foreign trade business activities.

Published in Business
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