(HUAWEI ) - Although the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet over, we are already able to draw some initial lessons from this unprecedented health and economic crisis that has impacted the entire world. The meteoric rise of digital technology throughout the world at a time when border closures and lockdown measures have become commonplace has shown us that we have truly gone full speed ahead into the fourth industrial revolution, that of innovation associated with the Internet of Things and digital technologies.
This trend has not bypassed Africa, quite the contrary. While the Internet continues to expand on the continent and mobile phone penetration is close to 45% in Sub-Saharan Africa, Africa could become the ideal setting for the development of Artificial Intelligence, given that the continent is home to the world's youngest population and is experiencing significant population growth, with an appetite for these New Information and Communication Technologies (NICTs).
Artificial Intelligence holds the promise of accelerated development and growth for Africa because, since it is now a major component in several technologies, it will enable innovative solutions to be found for education, health, agriculture, transport and energy, all of which are challenges facing the continent.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has made AI advocacy in Africa a priority and, in December 2018, held its first-ever AI conference in Morocco. The objective was to engage in ideation with and by African stakeholders on how to make Artificial Intelligence a lever for development on the continent.
At the World Conference on Artificial Intelligence on 9 July 2020 in Shanghai, experts, leaders, scientists and academics from around the world gathered to discuss the latest research on AI. Huawei, one of the pioneers in Research & Development applied to Artificial Intelligence, explained its role in supporting companies in their digital and digital transformation for a fully connected and intelligent world.
Huawei is dedicated to this intelligent and connected world in the spirit of open and collaborative partnerships. For Artificial Intelligence, a truly breakthrough technology, to deliver on its promise, it is essential that all stakeholders – governments, individuals, private companies and public institutions – work together in an open and transparent way while respecting data privacy and national security. Only through sincere and effective cooperation can the enormous potential of Artificial Intelligence be harnessed for the benefit of all and in the service of all.
In Africa, we at Huawei have already begun to explore the myriad possibilities offered by Artificial Intelligence for the development of the continent. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Huawei collaborated with the Moroccan health department on providing access to an AI platform designed to speed up the diagnosis phase of patients while respecting personal data (Huawei Cloud). We went on to develop this solution in Gabon as well. Other solutions are expected to be rapidly developed, for example in agriculture, through the creation of applications that will help optimise natural resources, largely as a result of the ultra-precise weather forecasts made possible by AI.
We believe in the potential of Artificial Intelligence in Africa, which is why we have set up a specialist unit entirely dedicated to the continent. Huawei in Africa will always be “for Africa”.
Philippe Wang, Executive-Vice President, Huawei Northern Africa.