After two years of virtual conferences, the annual AfricaCom conference – Africa’s largest technology conference – returned with a message of hope for the continent.
“Given the potential and rapid growth of the country’s digital economy, technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and the cloud are rapidly growing and adopting ICT in various industries in growing,” said Leo Chen, president of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa Region, in the opening keynote. “They are supporting Africa to promote technological change, increase productivity and increase employment.”
Held at the Cape Town International Conference Center (CTICC), the conference brought together African executives, industry experts and thought leaders. Huawei had a big presence at the event, under the theme “Illuminating the Future”.
Chen told the audience that in the past two years, Africa has made great progress in digitization. It has established the first mile infrastructure, connecting the countries of the world to the global internet. It has established its medium-mile internet infrastructure that enhances connectivity within and between countries.
However, there are still challenges to overcome.
“Today, we must continue to improve the infrastructure of public transport and bridge the digital divide between cities and rural areas.”
Although there is a need for greater adoption of digital technologies, constraints including skills shortages and the lack of viable technology solutions are hindering the progress of ICT adoption.
Chen has three main ways to break these barriers.
“Relationships must be deepened to connect people, entities, and situations; generating digital output and enabling digital transformation in many industries; increase the efficiency of the ICT industry and use ICT technologies to reduce emissions across all industries.”
Important to the African context are case studies on the digital transformation of the port and mining sectors in China that have focused on its African counterparts. These case studies are a reference to the potential of the development of the digital economy in Africa, as 90% of Africa’s imports and exports go by sea, and mining is a major source of create wealth for many African countries.
As Africa’s digital ship sails for the future, it needs a strong tailwind to propel it forward, says Chen. He called for better industrial projects and cooperation between the public and private sectors.
To this end, Huawei has established four innovation centers in Africa, launched plans to support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and will train 100,000 “digital heroes” in Africa in in the next three years.