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Huawei RURALSTAR: An innovation for improving the economics of rural connectivity in Africa8 min read

Huawei RURALSTAR: An innovation for improving the economics of rural connectivity in Africa
Teacher showing book to kids.

Huawei has been committed to “Bring digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world”. It is a leading global provider of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. With integrated solutions across four key domains – telecom networks, IT, smart devices, and cloud services.

Huawei has and will always be dedicated to connecting the unconnected and using innovative solutions and healthy business models to help promote mobile broadband in emerging markets. Huawei promises to continually work towards improving the quality of digital lives in every corner around the globe in line with digital inclusion drive deepens internet access to millions of people in Africa.

According to a GSMA report, nearly 750 million people worldwide still have no mobile network coverage, while 3.5 billion people do not have Internet access. The majority of these people live in remote areas with limited access to networks and electricity, and where it is expensive to build infrastructure.

Huawei RuralStar solution brings real improvements to the lives of those in rural communities, with access to greater resources in education, health, security, and business with coverage economically to even very small communities with minimal site preparation or infrastructure requirements, it is a tough solution for tough environments.

This solution applies wireless backhaul technology that does not require “line-of-sight” to link to other nodes, making it perfect for challenging terrains like deserts, mountainous regions, and rural valleys. In practice, that means it can go to work wherever people are. The simplicity of the system means that a node can be built in less than seven days, cutting setup costs and time by up to 70%.

RuralStar allows rural networks to provide cost-effective mobile broadband services as well as traditional voice services in remote areas. This solution combines Relay Remote Node (RRN) wireless backhaul, a simple pole tower, and green solar energy and supports multiple RATs, multiple frequency bands, and multi-level cascading, Also, this solution compliant with 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standard, which means it is compatible with multi-vendor networks and can interoperate with other core networks and remote transmission equipment. It provides 2G/3G/4G services, and it meets global network band requirements.


Man in Africa using cellphone in front of antenna.
  • Better healthcare: People can call for ambulance services, which was previously impossible.

The communication technology has enhanced access and eased the provision of health services.

“Now it is easy to access medicine because I just make a call. If I have an emergency and I do not have a particular medicine, I just need to call someone in Kina and tell them to deliver the medicine. Before, it was not possible to do so.” “Fatima, a nurse in Dispensary”.

  • Better security: Security is a serious problem with bandit raids that all too common in many African provinces. Public security has improved as incidents can be reported quickly and police can mobilise faster whenever clashes are reported.

“When there is cattle rustling and we want to report the authorities, we had to walk about 6 to 7 kilometers to get help. But now, in case of an emergency, we just call the authorities and tell them our problem, and we get intervention,” Daudi Halake, the Chief of Duse location”.

  • Better services: Safaricom’s M-PESA application, the most popular mobile money service, became accessible for the first time. Villagers and shopkeepers have used their phones to save and store money, to trade goods, re-stock their stores, and to sell their products securely and with convenience.

“Previously, people had a lot of problems, imagine you want to withdraw Ksh.1000 from M-PESA, and you travel for 18 kilometers to withdraw Ksh.1000 in Kina, so you have to board a motorcycle for Ksh.500 and the same amount to come back. So, you remain with nothing. Now, it has brought about M-PESA which was not there before. “Abdi Jirma Susuka, the M-PESA agent”.

  • Better education: Teachers with smartphones have been able to access information online and show videos and other content to students to aid in their teaching, as well as staying up to date with government advice on education.

“This internet has assisted us so much because our teachers can now access the internet for more information that will assist in teaching and learning. “Mohammed Somo, Headteacher at Primary school”.


RuralStar Antenna

Emerging economies with many small and remote communities suffer from a lack of connectivity.

Giving the ability able to communicate with other people outside their community using their mobile devices, is a life-transforming experience.

ICT initiatives for Huawei are to the growth of new skills required to power the digital economy in Africa countries.

For example, Kenya has a population of 48 million, most of whom live in rural villages. Only 22% of households have Internet access. In the thriving cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, superior infrastructure has brought a new generation of Kenyans into the digital world, but in rural areas, there is still a long way to go.

RuralStar 2.0 will play a significant role in bridging the digital divide in emerging markets. This solution is suitable in many scenarios, including remote mountainous areas, islands, highways, urban villages, and emergency communication scenarios. These scenarios involve long distances and complex terrains, which lead to the following long-enduring construction conundrums for mobile communications infrastructure: high construction costs, lack of stable power supply, and long construction periods.

It is specifically designed to provide:

  • 2G voice, SMS, and mobile money services, and
  • 3G broadband data services.


Men using cellphone.

There are Huawei’s two rural network solutions in addition to the first solution RuralStar.
RuralStar Pro and RuralStar Lite.

RuralStar Pro solution, Huawei launched an example of the company’s commitment to technological breakthroughs. Promoting digital inclusiveness and making connectivity accessible to all.

RuralStar Pro requires only two solar panels to power the entire site, significantly reducing power consumption and lowering the weight of the base station to nearly 550 kilograms. The civil engineering work required is also reduced, ensuring simplified site delivery.

“RuralStar Pro moves a further step towards improving the lives of people in remote areas by enabling remote education, inclusive finance, telemedicine, and other digital social services. Huawei is committed to bridging the digital divide and promoting digital inclusiveness and has never stopped investing in connecting the unconnected “. “Hao Yingtao President of the Wireless Site Domain of Huawei’s Wireless Network Product Line. “

RuralStar Lite, another innovative rural network solution. Fitted with four solar panels, it greatly reduces power consumption. The solution allows all equipment to be installed on a pole, eliminating the need to build fences or install cabinets. The combination of these advantages significantly reduces site deployment costs. In villages with a population of 500 to 1,000 people, RuralStar Lite keeps operators’ ROI period within 3–5 years. Also, this solution is specialized to cost-efficiently bring voice and mobile broadband (MBB) services to rural villages.


Two women posing in front of RuralStar Antenna

Huawei has also invested in building skills at all levels of society by working with universities and other partners to foster ICT talents and training ICT practitioners. The company said it has trained more than 20,000 ICT engineers who have become the main workforce to guarantee the network running of Nigeria. Currently, the company has engaged over 40 Nigerian universities to establish its Huawei Authorised Information and Network Academy (HAINA) and provide industrially recognised ICT certification in subjects including networks, routing and switching.


Huawei played a huge role in improving the accessibility of rural networks and will continue innovating and doing its utmost to bring digital to every corner around the world.

Huawei has been committed to bringing digital to every person, home, and organization for an intelligent world and promote digital inclusiveness around the world.

Huawei’s RuralStar solution can effectively help operators significantly reduce TCO through wireless backhaul, green energy, and easy installation, effectively reducing ROI and achieving low-cost rural coverage.

RuralStar significantly reduces the costs of network infrastructure deployment and maintenance and allows operators to quickly deploy sites in remote areas.

**You can learn more about Debra Ruh below and about Nabil Eid by clicking in his name.

About the Authors

Debra Ruh

Debra Ruh

Chief Executive Officer

Debra Ruh is the CEO of Ruh Global IMPACT.  The UN President’s office invited Debra to address the United Nations General Assembly at the Conference of State Parties 9th session on May 13, 2016.  Selected as the North American representative for UN ILO Global Business and Disability Network (GBDN). US State Department global speaker and ambassador since 2018. Nominated as Global Goodwill Ambassador in 2018.  Author of three books, Inclusion Branding (available in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Voice via Audible), Tapping into Hidden Human Capital, and Finding Your Voice using Social Media.  Learn more at or

She is a global influencer, with over 300,000 followers on social media. Co-founder of award winning #AXSChat one of largest tweet chats in the world with over 8 billion tweets. Named in the “Top 5% of Social Media Influencers” and “Top 0.1% of people talking about Disability Inclusion and Accessibility” by KLOUT, #15 in Digital Scouts, and Top 100 Global Digital Influencers in Sept 2018.  Debra has been featured on CBS, ABC, NBC, Washington Post, INC, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Huffington Post, NY Times, Christian Science Monitor, and more.

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