What will it take for Africa to drive US$5-trillion digital economy?

Africa's digital
opportunity

Continent's progress
under the spotlight.


Friday, Nov 15th

UX key metric to Africa's 4IR ambitions

UX key metric to Africa's 4IR ambitions

In his opening address at the NEC XON 2019 Summit being hosted at Sun City in South Africa's North West Province, Carel Coetzee, chief executive officer at NEC XON, spoke of the opportunity technology offers Africa and referenced the formalisation of the African Free Trade agreement which represents a significant and lasting opportunity for Africa.

He said: "There are 55 members and 54 have signed the agreement. What this creates is a marketplace of 1.2 billion people with an estimated GDP of 3.4-trillion dollars ... we are expected to see first tariffs being fixed by July next year. Studies have come to the conclusion there will be eleven major transitions impacting growth within a thirty year period including alleviating poverty in Africa, including education, peace, social grants, external support, data and upsurge in local manufacturing."

Building on the last year's Summit theme 'whether or not 4IR can be Africa's hero', the global tech firm has again stressed the need for Africa to position itself to take advantage of technologies including IOT, cloud, AI, and 5G.

Coetzee said 4IR can be Africa's hero, but much will depend on the effort the continent makes in exploiting opportunities.

Scott Alexander, Cloud Solutions Business Development Director, Juniper Networks, said, "The key thing is user experience... this is the key metric in making change happen, and it's all being driven by IT."

Alexander spoke of the UK's NHS system and the growing opportunity for technology like data mining and analytics to be introduced in order to change user experience.

He said the NHS costs the government US$134-billion and employs 1.4 million people. "Of course, the question is 'do we actually get value for money?'. When it comes to user experience, we're actually still using an antiquated system in terms of phoning through to make an appointment. We're relying on having to be first in the queue to get hold of someone who is not a doctor, but has to decide if we will get an appointment or not."

"That sort of user experience is poor and there is an opportunity to introduce data mining and genetic profiling within the system. But this requires data sources and means the network is very important."

From a networking point of view, traffic inspection and steering is critical to AI-driven enterprises in which there is significant use of the cloud said Alexander. "The ability to create paths and orchestrate traffic in a dynamic way is key."

In one of several predictions made on the day, Pieter Geldenhuys, Business Unusual -futurist and strategist, said: "The next big thing will be the UPA - the ubiquitous personal assistant. Going forward, our primary interface into the internet will be voice. We can embrace the technology to unlock possibilities."

NEC XON maintains its head offices in Gauteng, South Africa with a footprint that covers all nine provinces in South Africa and 16 Countries in sub-Sahara Africa.

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