A Chinese company that was engaged by the Botswana Police for the installation of street lights cameras was banned from the United States of America for fear of interfering with national security, it has emerged.
Huawei technologies PTY Ltd was banned from operating in the US after authorities there expressed concern that the Chinese company could use its access to spy on U.S. officials.
Botswana Police has engaged Huawei technologies PTY Ltd on a two year contract which was signed by the Commissioner of Police Keabetswe Makgophe and managing director of Huawei Ren Fujun on the 13th November 2017 for a project dubbed Safer Cities.
During the signing ceremony, Makgophe said the project was necessary for the police’s delivery of effective policing to Batswana through the use of surveillance cameras.
He said through the establishment of the project Batswana will look forward to a free crime streets and improved security in general.
For his part, the Managing Director of Huawei Botswana, Ren Fujun assured the Commissioner of Police that they would abide by the agreement and make sure the project is completed on time.
When asked by The Telegraph this week if they were aware that the company they have engaged was banned in the US, the Botswana Police officials said they are not aware.
Huawei Company has been a topical issue since 2012 in the US and the understanding would be that Botswana Police was aware about the issue.
According to American media reports, Two Republican Senators introduced legislation on February that would block the U.S. government from buying or leasing telecommunications equipment from Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and another leading Chinese technology company, ZTE Corp.
“Huawei is effectively an arm of the Chinese government, and it’s more than capable of stealing information from U.S. officials by hacking its devices,” Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said.
“There are plenty of other companies that can meet our technology needs, and we shouldn’t make it any easier for China to spy on us,” he added.
When responding to The Telegraph, Botswana Police Service, Deputy Spokesperson-Senior Superintendent, Near Bagali said they are not aware that Huawei Company could in future interfere with Botswana’s national security. He further said they are also not aware that the company was banned in the US for security issues.
“The tendering process has long passed and therefore there is nothing to update pertaining to tendering. We are currently at an implementation phase. All the due processes and procedures were followed and therefore we are satisfied. We are not aware of the alleged national safety risk fears,” said Bagali.
Contacted for a comment, US Embassy Information Specialist Ephraim Keoreng said they do not have anything to discuss relating to Botswana and China relationship.
“We do not have anything to add on this issue as it is an agreement between the governments of Botswana and China,” said Keoreng
For its part, Hauwai Technologies Botswana (Pty) Ltd Deputy Managing Director Ramasala Ntwaetsile said he was of what was going on between China and US but was at pain to explain the effects of that in relation to Botswana.
”I can confirm that we are not a security threat and the Botswana Police as the custodian of the project can attest to this,” said Ntwaetsile.
He said Batswana should not be worried as Botswana and China are in good terms as evidence by the recent visit by President Mokgweetsi Masisi to China.