Technology is helping us overcome the pandemic, and technology can also fuel our continent’s recovery in the post-pandemic era, writes Chen Lei, president of Huawei Southern Africa.
For most of us, 2020 has been a year of almost dramatic, almost traumatic change. As individuals, our lives have been transformed; As companies, our operating models have been revolutionized; And as a society, we have been shaken to the core.
Fortunately, many of the technologies that have helped us overcome the worst of the pandemic and the lockdown hold the key to success and prosperity in the post-lockdown era.
The new forms of interaction that emerged this year, characterized by distance working, distance education, distance healthcare, online shopping and mobile money, will define how society works in the future.
Across the economy, the pace of change is already enormous. Last week when we launched a 5G lab at the University of Wits, Professor Adam Habib, the rector of Wits, told us how Wits had moved fully online within three weeks during the pandemic, a process that was previously planned. to take three years.
The online movement has occurred throughout society, not only in education, but also in the workplace, in retail, and in entertainment, and this movement will be permanent. This explains why data traffic soared by more than 40%, while digital services soared in Sub-Saharan Africa.
African governments have responded quickly to the demand, releasing temporal specters and making policy recommendations, as has the president’s 4IR commission in South Africa.
Some of these policy measures, recently announced by Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, have included a commitment to invest in human capital, establish an institute for artificial intelligence, establish a platform for advanced manufacturing and support the data security. to enable innovation.
Policy measures such as these should be encouraged as they open the door for ICT companies to increasingly contribute to socio-economic development.
The government can further enable ICT-driven development through policies to ensure rapid deployment of infrastructure, reduce the cost of spectrum, and provide tax breaks to make smartphones more affordable.
Another strategy to build a better Africa through ICT is to invest in digital skills. According to the GSMA, only 28% of the 1.3 billion African citizens subscribe to the mobile internet, compared to the global average of 48%.
Connectivity is not just about coverage and speed, but also about usability and inclusion. We need to invest more in digital skills for people, to empower them digitally, so that they can use digital technologies not only to consume the ideas of others, but also to develop their own.
For ICT to better play its role as a growth accelerator and social equalizer, we need to connect more households and businesses, especially SMEs, and upgrade digital infrastructure to better meet the growing demand for online services.
At Huawei, we are deeply aware of our responsibility in this regard, and we are constantly investing skills and infrastructure to firstly provide the networks and secondly to give our people the ability to use them for their own development.
Our goal is to bring digital to all people, homes and organizations for a smart and fully connected world. In South Africa, one of the ways we’ve been doing this is by using Huawei’s artificial intelligence to help customers predict and manage networks, improving operations efficiency by more than 30%.
In Angola, our digital power solutions have reduced energy costs at base stations by up to 70%, effectively reducing the carbon footprint of operators.
Our software solutions can increase the efficiency of broadband connections to facilities by 30% while reducing costs by 40%, which could bring more African homes and businesses online.
In the domain of cloud and artificial intelligence, Huawei’s recently launched South African local data centers provide public cloud services in South Africa and across the continent.
Huawei’s ICT academies have been established in more than 400 world-class universities in 17 African countries, producing more than 50,000 certified graduates.
Ours is just one component of what should be a society-wide movement to relaunch our society for the post-pandemic era of digital empowerment. It is our time to prosper and it requires that we all put our shoulders behind the wheel to build a better future for ourselves and for all the people of Africa.