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Saturday, January 07, 2017

The need for ICT research in Africa | IDG Connect

"ICT based research may be limited but it can offer a great source of solutions for the continent." according to Vincent Matinde, international IT Journalist. 

Photo: IDG Connect

Research and development is the backbone of any industry. Now Africa is waking up to the fact that it needs to boost its research activities backed by a sound ICT foundation and this is slowly bearing fruit.

ICT tools can help researchers and scientists get faster results to their hypothesis. This requires the input of relevant technology in research institutions. Research on the other hand can help come up with relevant technology.

In Kenya, the IBM Research Lab situated at the Catholic University in Nairobi was a one of its kind in the region. A similar initiative has since been opened in South Africa.

According to IBM, such research facilities in Africa will open up an opportunity for cognitive research methods where the computer starts to learn and adapt to patterns. This has been pushed by its cognitive system, Watson.

For example, the company said, “IBM scientists are developing cognitive learning approaches to transform cancer reporting, prevention and precision medicine in Africa.”
 
IBM hopes that cognitive computing implementation will see the countries in Africa come up with commercially viable solutions in healthcare, education, water and sanitation, human mobility and agriculture.

In terms of sanitation and human mobility, the research lab fitted several garbage trucks with sensors that could map out the road conditions around Nairobi.

“By fitting garbage trucks with mobile phone trackers that monitor their movement, scientists enabled fleet supervisors to monitor data on location, altitude and speed in real time. This meant they were aware of problems on the road as soon as drivers experienced them and could plan more efficient routes through better sections of road. As a result, garbage collected in Nairobi has increased from 800 to 1400 metric tonnes per day,” IBM said during the project implementation last year.

Back in South Africa, the IBM research team used data from Twitter and TomTom to analyse the traffic situation in Johannesburg.

“Commuters in the City of Johannesburg currently spend 35 minutes extra travel time per day due to traffic congestion, according to the TomTom Traffic Index. Unreliable traffic light infrastructure provides challenges to traffic light management in the city,” IBM reported.

“Using real time anonymised traffic data from TomTom combined with Twitter, IBM scientists have developed a traffic optimisation recommendation tool which can help city officials dispatch traffic volunteers, known locally as pointsmen, to the intersections where they are most urgently needed.”
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Source: IDG Connect  


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