CLOUD set to drive Africa’s inclusive AI future

JOHANNESBURG, July 2020 – Cloud computing offers unique opportunities to drive inclusive growth and economic transformation in Africa by developing the digital economy and supporting artificial intelligence (AI) opportunities.

This was the message emerging from this week’s HUAWEI CLOUD Summit Africa 2020, an online event to unpack the opportunities of cloud computing for African business under the theme “Building an Intelligent Africa”.

“AI and digitization offer untold benefits for almost every sector,” said Marcus Tay Soon Guan, Chief Tech Director of HUAWEI CLOUD Africa Region at the Summit. “AI and the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) can help enterprises build relevant, game-changing offerings for their customers and society.”

Tay said that due to the enormous amounts of information being generated by people, equipment and connected devices in the emerging 4IR era, there were massive data storage and analysis needs, and Cloud was the most effective way to deliver this. 

“AI is no longer just an IT capability – it’s an operational requirement,” he said. “But we envisage an AI future where computing power is readily available through the Cloud, like the air we breathe, unleashing the full, transformative potential of algorithms.”

Cloud&AI has applications in e-medicine, logistics, resource management, online education, and retail. Speakers at the summit also described how AI can materially transform finance, urban planning, farming, mining and several other industries.

Tay outlined how the HAUWEI CLOUD offering had lowered the threshold for entering the AI arena, allowing industry experts to access the productivity benefits of AI, without any of the technology complexity.

HUAWEI CLOUD has seen rapid uptake, with the company tripling global revenue and paid users in one year. The main demand for Cloud applications has been in database services, development, video and the Internet of Things (IoT), while the ModelArts platform supports the development of applications like device to-AI-synergisation, automatic speech recognition and video ingestion. 

Tay said that Cloud empowered organisations to become digitally smart.

“The application potential of cloud-enabled AI to solve business problems is limited only by the human imagination,” he said.

“In today’s context, AI alone is insufficient – it needs Cloud and 5G technology,” said Tay. “Fortunately, Huawei is in the unique position of being able to offer an AI-infused Cloud model, along with cutting-edge 5G technology capabilities to build solutions for digital enterprise needs,” he said.
Tay said that the key to digital inclusion was expanding AI services to benefit Africa’s people in the public and private sector, in a way that was affordable and scalable, with simple development platforms and expert support. 

He said businesses could now use AI to target their precise enterprise intelligence needs without any long-term capital requirement – consuming the service without any equipment outlay. For the public sector, the delivery of services could be revolutionised through the power of data. 

“The age of artificial intelligence is upon us,” said Tay. “It will transform Africa’s future, as long as it remains inclusive, affordable, effective and reliable.” 

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