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COVID-19 puts digital transformation back on agenda


JOHANNESBURG –THE mobile sector has been lauded for its vital role in supporting efforts to tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19) and enhancing the health services response to the global scourge.

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) welcomed the impact as governments continue frantic efforts to stop the pandemic’s devastation.

GSMA, in a report just released, stated that while the virus had upended people’s lives, health and business sectors, people were using technological innovation during uncertain times.

“In this unprecedented situation, people are quickly adapting to innovative ways of connecting and doing business empowered by connectivity, and digital transformation is no longer just a question but an action for many industries,” the report reads.

Mobile operators have played key roles in efforts to respond to the pandemic, especially in ensuring smooth communication during health emergencies and improving the coverage of 4G/5G networks.

For example, during the construction of two new hospitals in China to treat COVID-19 patients, mobile operators including China Telecom and China Mobile, working with Huawei, deployed 4G/5G communication networks which resulted in adequate mobile coverage in the hospitals.

The deployment of 4G/5G networks also assisted with remote consultation and telemedicine. Mobile operators were able to construct up to eight 4G/5G network sites in less than 30 hours following the construction of the hospitals.

“The high-quality 4G/5G networks have ensured smooth and uninterrupted communication services in China and provided strong support for the mission-critical response efforts in China during COVID-19 pandemic,” GSMA stated.

In Africa, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been at the forefront of ensuring social and physical distancing measures are observed.

Dr Zweli Mkhize, South Africa’s health minister, recently spoke about the importance of technological innovation in tackling the virus.

He spoke as he received Huawei Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) diagnostic systems and thermal scanning systems.

Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Ghana Vice President, recently launched an application designed to help trace people who have come into contact with COVID-19 positive individuals and link them to health professionals, for urgent action to be taken.

The Al-empowered diagnosis tool assists medical workers ascertain if someone has COVID-19.

The accuracy of this tool is over 98 percent, with CT scan review times reduced by over 80 percent.

Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa has been significantly impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to the World Bank.

Edison Xie, Director of Media Affairs at Huawei Southern Africa, expressed confidence in the economies bouncing back as combinations of ICTs and health, education and other services gradually became a new norm.

“There is an opportunity for Africa to return to its growth trajectory by adopting new business models and methodologies that have emerged from this outbreak,” Xie said.

– CAJ News

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