The stand-off between the US government and tech giant Huawei presents an opportunity for African developers to step up and seize a slice of a massive potential market in the search engine sector. But small players will not be able to do it alone and the opportunity will slip by if governments on the continent fail to make proactive interventions.

The commercial rupture between the US and China, especially pronounced since the start of the trade war in 2018, has set the stage for new scenarios in the global arena. While the US government’s initial broad target was Chinese manufactured imports, the trade war has since been characterised by a side-show over Huawei and other Chinese technology companies operating in the US, with the US claiming national security concerns.

On 15 May 2019, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order that banned the export of certain US technologies to designated foreign adversaries. Among the companies most affected was Huawei, which found itself banned from making use of Google’s Android operating system (OS) on new devices.

Equally affected by the move was Alphabet, the parent company of Google, which had previously benefited by having their product and app store pre-installed…

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