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5G Connectivity Holds Enormous Potential to Advance Innovation and Economic Development in Nigeria – Carvalho

Julia Carvalho is the General Manager for IBM Growth Markets in Africa. Julia is responsible for IBM’s business operations, growing the partner ecosystem and driving client satisfaction across multiple regions. She has an extensive experience in the IT and energy industry.
Prior to her appointment as General Manager, IBM Growth Markets, Africa Ms. Carvalho held the position of General Manager for Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Sao Tome. She helped expand IBM’s footprint and led the digital transformation journeys of clients around our key strategic imperatives of Hybrid Cloud and AI.  
Before joining IBM, Ms. Carvalho held led sales at Halliburton – Landmark Software and Services and previously served as a Professor and Researcher at the University of Lisbon. In prior roles, Ms. Carvalho was a consultant with Sonangol P&P and Sonagas and led the Natural Resources business unit at Sinfic in Angola.
In this interview with Nigeria Nigeria CommunicationsWeek reporter, Carvalho spoke on growth of 5G in Sub- Saharan Africa, and the role of Edge computing in digital transformation in Nigeria . Excerpts.

 

Could you share with us the role of IBM Edge Computing in digital transformation in Nigeria?

5G growth in the region is expected to develop rapidly in the second half of the decade and continue into the 2030s. This will have economic impact on Nigeria’s GDP and contribute to overall growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The greatest benefit will be the contribution to innovation and economic development and IBM believes 5G connectivity has enormous potential to advance industries ranging from streaming and communications to advanced robotics and manufacturing. The complexity of telco networks today and the speed of change has made management and control of infrastructure extremely painful. It is clear the tools, systems and methods of managing networks today are simply not fit for purpose for the network of tomorrow.

To advance the rollout of 5G connectivity worldwide, communications services providers (CSPs) are turning to AI-powered automation and network orchestration to improve the control and management of networking to deliver faster customer experiences. Innovations like network slicing allow organizations to set service levels for each device appropriate to their use of the network. For example, an autonomous vehicle can be supported by very low latency while an HD video camera can be allocated high bandwidth.  AI has the potential to quickly enable changes in the network that optimize network performance and reliability by applying machine learning, helping CSPs deliver on the promise of 5G.

Edge computing will offer Nigeria’s companies a more efficient alternative by processing and analysing data closer to the point where it’s created. Because data does not traverse over a network to a cloud or data center to be processed, latency is significantly reduced. Edge computing — and mobile edge computing on 5G networks — enables faster and more comprehensive data analysis, creating the opportunity for deeper insights, faster response times and improved performance and data security, and enhance customer experiences in the region.

Nigeria has licensed 5G operators who are yet to roll out services, how ready is the market for 5G services in terms of device availability?

Nigeria is progressing well in the rollout of 5G with the completion of the spectrum allocation. The next step will be to put the right infrastructure in place for networks to handle the immense numbers of connected devices. As the Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, has said, a collective effort is required toward Nigeria realizing the full benefits of the 5G rollout.

This is why we are more than happy to partner with the Nigerian government and the respective telcos to help with the successful rollout of 5G in the country. Beyond providing pipelines and bandwidth, we’re making edge services and 5G happen by delivering the capabilities, expertise and outcomes that our customers demand at scale, more securely and efficiently with our hybrid cloud architecture – IBM Cloud for Telecommunications. We are able to help telecoms deploy and modernize their core networks while giving telcos access to our rich ecosystem of partners for add-on solutions and use cases that fit the specific needs of the individual telco.

We also have a long history of working with the world’s largest telcos to help drive their digital transformation as they modernize workloads. In fact, 83% of the world’s telcos are IBM clients.

5G adoption brings about increased data generation and need for storage. How can these data be managed effectively?

It is true that 5G adoption will increase data generation. Be it audio, video, sensory or telemetry, every device produces data every second, and it is estimated that 2.5 exabytes of data are produced each day. Those bytes need to be stored somewhere, otherwise, they get discarded since many devices can store little or no data. So, what do we do with all that data and where do you store it?

In one of our recent studies, 74% of CEOs believe cloud computing will be the most helpful technology for their organization to deliver results over the next 2-3 years. As a result, we are laser-focused on the $1 trillion hybrid-cloud opportunities and we are investing in open innovation and security. Already, less than 25% of workloads have moved to the cloud, which leaves a majority still to migrate to the cloud.

IBM is the leader in the new era of hybrid cloud with full-stack capabilities including an AI-enabled software portfolio that has been retooled with open technologies. Our approach to cloud storage is to give clients the freedom of working on multiple clouds allowing them to “build once, deploy anywhere” – on-premise, at the edge, on any cloud, from any vendor. As our clients are not only looking to store their data but gain insights from it, our software is infused with enterprise-grade AI from Watson, which can be applied to their data, no matter where it lives.

We see this as unique from all other cloud providers – who claim to have “hybrid cloud offerings” – but require clients to move their data to their public cloud to take advantage of data management. At the same time, we see other providers and hyperscalers as our partners because, in order to leverage innovation happening with cloud and AI, clients need a platform that can run across every major cloud provider. This is what IBM’s hybrid cloud platform delivers.

What are you doing differently from what data centres offer organisations?

As I mentioned previously, we don’t just offer hybrid-cloud solutions to our partners, we offer an ecosystem of products and solutions that allows our partners to bring value and to their clients.

Our partners often operate in complex, multi-national and highly regulated industries, and we understand the importance of embedding security and compliance across all platforms – including public clouds and on-premises – to harness the power of cloud.

For example, some of Africa’s major banks, including Nigeria’s United Bank of Africa, have turned to us for our hybrid cloud and AI capabilities to unlock digital innovation and continue their work to develop digital-first solutions, ultimately aiming to broaden access to financial services. Banks face unique challenges when it comes to balancing innovation and regulatory compliance. We have utilised IBM’s extensive experience and leadership in security and data privacy in the financial services industry to fuel transformation by helping banks modernize, transform their operations, and offer innovation to their customers. We are able to achieve this through intelligent, cloud-based, digital-first innovation built on our hybrid cloud and AI capabilities

What have you put in-place to ensure that sensitive data stored with you are well protected?

Security is at the heart of our enterprise cloud adoption solutions. IBM has earned the trust of our clients by responsibly managing their most valuable data for more than a century.

And as the battle for consumer trust takes place on multiple fronts, from the ability to make decisions understandable and explainable to providing consumers with confidence that their personal data is being protected against cyberattacks – telcos will continue to invest in cybersecurity and AI will play an even more crucial role in helping  identify and respond to threats more efficiently, as they move towards a “zero trust” approach to further reduce risks.

We’re already witnessing this shift as telcos recognize the importance of security as a fundamental element to their transformation – 87 percent of CEO’s in Nigeria said data security being embedded throughout the cloud architecture​ is important or extremely important, in most cases, to successful digital initiatives.

A hybrid cloud model keeps telcos in control of their data by infusing enterprise level security in all aspects of the workflows they manage, as well as for those of customers and partners. With an open hybrid cloud approach, telcos can safely monetize their data because they can continue to own the keys to it, maintain control over privacy settings and integrate security and compliance across the breadth of their IT workloads.

 

 

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