Tech can propel SA to a world leading economy

A global executive believes South Africa can be a leading world economy in the 21st century if it leverages transformative technologies to boost its productivity and innovation capabilities.

Such technologies mentioned by Dr Mohammed Madkour include fifth generation cellular network technology (5G), artificial intelligence (AI) and Cloud.

“The confluence of cloud, AI and 5G technology will enable quantum leaps in the efficiency of industry, the prosperity of economies and the quality of life,” Madkour, Huawei Vice President for Wireless Networks Marketing and Solutions, said.

He was speaking at the first annual Huawei ICT Editors Xchange event in Johannesburg recently.

The session focused on South Africa’s move towards digitisation and how step changes like 5G connectivity would benefit society.

“We just need to ensure that this (adoption) takes place within an open, integrated and inclusive ecosystem,” Madkour said.

“5G, AI and the Cloud are tools. These tools will not transform our society. People will do that,” he added.

Madkour said people would be able to do that if they were equipped with the right skills to use these technologies effectively.

This, he said, would enable them to unlock endless possibilities offered by 5G, AI and the Cloud.

Farouk Osman Latib, from Huawei Cloud Africa, described the Cloud as “a runway.”

He said 5G, AI and the Internet of Things ‘IoT’ as “engines that will enable society to take flight.”

Latib thus emphasised the importance of people to be equipped with the relevant skills.

“We are now in an era where connectivity is a basic need. Connecting to the Cloud is becoming essential, because it will be the enabler of all future digital technology,” he said.

The event in Johannesburg was held at a time the industry is awaiting government’s long-awaited spectrum auction.

Initially set for 2017, it was postponed amid differences between government and industry regulators over the process.

Madkour said the licencing of more spectrum and incentivising usage of 5G would boost business and bring data prices down.

Nozipho Mngomezulu, an ICT lawyer, concurred.

“We currently have a situation whereby something (spectrum) is essential but is a scarce resource,” she said.