Huawei has launched a South African-based Cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Innovation Centre to drive innovation, knowledge transfer and economic growth through app development in the AI industry.
The announcement was made by Ray Rui, president of Huawei Cloud Africa region, during the 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 will be critical to social evolution and industrial growth in future,” said Rui. “We also believe that when you grow economic opportunities, everyone benefits. For this reason, we are opening the Huawei Cloud & AI Innovation Centre to application developers across all economic sectors.”
The new centre will be based at Huawei’s South African headquarters in Woodmead, Johannesburg, but developers across Africa will be able to access the centre remotely. It will teach AI application best practice, link developers to markets, support AI supply chains, develop talent and support application innovation.
Several speakers at the summit described how AI is transforming industries – a process only being accelerated by the challenges of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Innovations such as smart cities, connected cars, automated mining and precision agriculture are already driven by AI, and oil exploration, finance and retail are also leveraging machine learning to be more effective.
“Enabling developers is the best engine for AI growth,” said Rui. “The new centre is part of this approach.”
As part of Huawei Cloud’s “Inclusive AI” strategy, the company has an open development ecosystem to enable collaboration and tech support. The new Huawei Cloud & AI Innovation Centre will feed into this by providing training in Huawei’s full-stack, all-scenario solutions, and platforms like ModelArts.
Other summit speakers included more than a dozen Huawei Cloud partners from across Africa, outlining how cloud technology was transforming their industries.
“Our Huawei Cloud partnership has enabled us to offer simple, fast, secure payment solutions for clients in Africa and Asia,” said Eddie Ndichu, CEO and founder of the WapiPay payment platform. “It’s a modular, end-to-end solution that positions us perfectly for future growth into new services and new markets.”
Kabelo Makwane, managing executive of cloud, hosting and security at Vodacom Business, described how partnerships were helping to drive secure transitions to the cloud for businesses across the continent.
“Huawei Cloud has been a key component of how we get to market with multi-cloud capabilities in a highly data-centric business environment,” he said.
The fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is likely to be characterised by massive, large-scale communication via the Internet of things, with cloud as the foundation of these mass communication capabilities.
Africa’s data centre capacity has doubled in the past three years. However, it still accounts for less than 1% of global availability.
“Data demand is soaring, as remote work and e-commerce become the norm,” said George Thabit Ayad Thomas, senior solutions manager of Huawei Cloud Africa region. “In this context, cloud computing, with its instant IT availability, has been a fundamental support system for African organisations. But it is also a key business driver.
“We look forward to continuing to build Africa’s AI future by expanding the continent’s cloud capabilities,” he said.
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