It has been 2 months since The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. In that period, we have seen countries go into lockdown with schools sending their students home indefinitely. Major industries have taken hits with most countries reporting a dip in the economy. As we settle into what is seemingly the new norm, organizations across the world are working tirelessly to find ways to keep business going.
Technology has been one of the major tethers keeping people together even as they stay apart. The various ICT systems that have allowed schools to conduct online classes. Additionally, companies have streamlined their delivery services to ensure people can shop online for household goods and groceries. However, while we work together to help flatten the curve, we cannot help but wonder, what is next?
The massive effect of the pandemic will leave a huge mark on the community. As we remain conscious of the importance of protecting lives, we cannot deny the importance of laying the foundation for the future. Technology will be as important moving forward as it has been during these uncertain times.
Huawei is helping lay the foundation for the next stage of society’s technological advancement- The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Chen Lei, the President of the Huawei South African Region, was inspired by the YouTube video of young South African dancer Hlumelo who is a member of the Zama Dance School. He has been under lockdown in his township Gugulethu. However, he has not let the lockdown stop him from dancing. He has continued practising his steps until he and his friends can perform again.
That is the spirit that Huawei wants to embody. Even during such bleak times, we can still look to the future so we can equip ourselves for what is coming next. This fighting spirit was summed up by Shanghai ballet dancers who continued to rehearse in masks so they can be ready when the theatres are opened.
After spending several weeks with locked down businesses, people are slowly shifting focus on how to reopen the economy. While it sounds easy to just rush back into the normal busy, concentrated work and social environments, that might not be the solution. Even as the economy reopens, people will still need to practice social distancing. This means that they will still be as reliant on high-speed connectivity as they were before to access educational and social amenities.
As part of their strategy to drive technological services during this pandemic and after, Huawei has come together with their business partners all over the African continent through their competencies in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. They have been able to facilitate the flow of domestic and international exchanges between epidemic experts in China and Africa through their video conferencing systems.
Other than that, their remote video conferencing systems have helped medical institutions to communicate more efficiently. With the essential works being the emerging heroes at this time of need, timely communication has really helped in flattening the curve. The race for time is critical for saving lives now more than ever. Huawei has implemented AI-based diagnosis solutions in several medical institutions. With this new technology, CT scan reviews can now be completed in two minutes which is 80% faster than the normal time.
Huawei believes these systems are key to the advancement of technology. Moving forward they will continue to use their core information and communication capabilities to support Africa’s epidemic control efforts. Even as people settle into our ‘new normal’, this pandemic has been an eye-opener to the potential of technology in building social cohesion. While it was not a preferred choice, many organizations have shut down physical onsite operations and had their employees working from home. Other aspects such as remote healthcare, online shopping, mobile money and distance education have also been the ‘norm’. While these systems came into effect after the pandemic, they have introduced a way of life that many people are interested in practising moving forward.
This new business model is taking shape across all sectors including transportation, security, finance, medicine, education and entertainment. For it to run smoothly, it will be driven by greater data consumption facilitated by mass 4G/5G technology. This data was backed up by a recent whitepaper that noted that COVID-19 is seeing 5G transform healthcare response mechanisms to become digital, accurate and smart. This pandemic has brought home the importance of ICT to stakeholders such as the government who are important in the implementation of policies that push such agendas forward.
The kind of network that Huawei is helping develop is not only important in growing the new business model, it is also a historic opportunity for Africa to use ICT to catch up and surpass other countries in terms of human development and quality of life. ICT systems are likely to provide the foundation of Africa’s future economy. That is why it is important to start honing, perfecting, and expanding them now while in lockdown. This way, once we are able to roam freely, we will be able to recover quickly.
As we move into a new age of technological advancements, this pandemic has only accelerated how much we need and value technology. The COVID-19 outbreak has shown that more people are able to work effectively from home more than it was previously believed. This has shifted organizational mindsets into incorporating a remote workplace model into their working structure. However, for this to become a reality, there is a need to fully automate working operations in all departments. This will include incorporation of ICT systems that will ensure seamless communication and information flow to all parties involved regardless of their geographical location.
This outbreak has taught us a few painful lessons about how to handle such a crisis. Technology will be key in enabling us to better handle the aftermath of this crisis while still being better prepared in the event of another one. This experience has reshaped how we look at sectors such as telehealth and its importance in improving health outcomes. As corporations and governments shift their priorities towards countless digital health alternatives, we may see a rise in the number of people with access to healthcare services in a push of a button even in remote areas. If we thought we needed technology before, this pandemic has shown us just how much more we could do with it.