A digital revolution is at the heart of Huawei’s plan for Africa

In the South African township of Gugulethu, lockdown life hasn’t stopped 13-year-old Hlumelo – a ballet dancer; from doing his thing.

Every day, this young man who is also a member of the Zama Dance School continues practicing his steps for the moment when he and his friends can perform together again.

Thousands of miles across the Indian Ocean, another group of ballet dancers in Shanghai China, continue to practice for their upcoming performance of Swan Lake.

They take precautions by wearing facemasks during each session, but they have not allowed the plague to kill their spirits. Indeed, they have remained focused on the next phase of their development.

Mr. Chen Lei, President of Huawei Southern Africa Region put it so well when he said that preparation is essential to being effective, and that hardship can shape ultimate success.

Members of the Shanghai ballet continued to practice –
for their upcoming performance of Swan Lake

The coronavirus pandemic that is threatening to turn our daily lives into veritable hells never looked like something that could happen outside the movies. But it is here and the damage has already been done.

Since mid-January, the microbe whose origin can be traced back to the city of Wuhan in China has been on a ruthless destruction spree that has pushed many world economies into a free fall.

Big economic disruptions have seen thousands of jobs cut, a situation that has created a lot of grievances and resentments.

Schools have been shut down indefinitely. All over sudden, lockdown life feels like the new normal. At this point, however, most governments have little choice but to return to economic activity.

People are beginning to contemplate life after lockdown. But as governments begin to loosen restrictions, Mr. Chen Lei says that it needs to be done in an extremely cautious manner because secondary outbreaks are a certainty.

Chen Lei President of Huawei Southern Africa Region

“When we re-open, communities and workplaces will have to continue practicing social distancing,” He says.

The Huawei boss says that technology will be fundamental to economic recovery for African countries. It is true that ICT services ranging from video conferencing, electronic banking, and many others have played a great role in terms of keeping us all connected during lockdown, quarantine, and social isolation.

For instance, Huawei’s video conferencing service that has been adopted by many African countries has enabled information sharing both domestically and internationally between epidemic prevention experts in China and Africa.

While Hlumelo prepares for his upcoming ballet completion after the virus has been contained, Mr. Chen Lei says that Huawei is also preparing to lay the foundation for the next stage of society’s technological advancement – the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“When the dust settles, and we begin to arrive at the much-heralded “new normal”, we will have seen the immense potential for ICT to build social cohesion.”

“We have also implemented an AI-based diagnosis solution in several medical institutions. CT scan reviews can now be completed in two minutes, 80% faster, in a race with time, critical for saving lives.”

The Coronavirus pandemic will in ways reshape society and business as we know it. Chen says that business models of the future may be characterized by remote work, distance education, remote healthcare, online shopping, and mobile money.

Compared to other African nations, Kenya is way ahead technologically. A sizable portion of our GDP is underpinned by ICT platforms like Mpesa and others. But in order to continue thriving, perfecting and honing these platforms will be key.

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