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4 Quantum Computing Opportunities for African Countries

By Wayan Vota on January 25, 2023

quantum computing africa


Artificial intelligence has aided technological innovation as digitalised data continued to grow, and thus many economies depended on its applications in order to expand the digital revolution that addresses challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Quantum computing, also know as quantum machine learning (QML) is an emerging field encompassing systems learning without being programmed or modified. QML operations can harness the phenomena of quantum mechanics, such as superposition, interference, and entanglement to give a better computational performance and is expected to revolutionise the future.

Since it has successfully optimised classical machine learning algorithms to solve complex systems, it will also escalate the development of AI-based systems with qubits – two-state quantum information that can occupy two simultaneous states |0⟩ and |1⟩ at once. Thus QML suffices up to the task of solving computationally-intensive operations. QML has shown its unmatched potential by solving algebraic computational problems such as the problem of factoring large integers using Shor’s algorithm, which improves computational speed and data storage over a range of computer systems.

The 4IR promotes the implementation of AI and QML for efficient industrialization. However, Africa has fallen behind in technological development, and the challenges are poor human development which involves poverty, youth unemployment, poor health, and education. Another motive for Africa being undeveloped is due to lack of technical education across various countries, thus stagnating the economies.

4 Quantum Computing Opportunities for African Countries

Nevertheless, AI and QML can increase opportunities offered by technology to transform Africa and bring innovative ideas over numerous sectors. These tools can enable Africa to close the technological gap with developed countries and encourage economic growth. Failing to exploit the opportunities of 4IR will consequently urge additional risks on African stakeholders, with no attempts to find new innovative ideas for digital growth. This will additionally weaken global competitiveness as Africa risk falling behind.

1. Banking & Finance

AI and QML are significant in interacting with people such that they acquire data to perform cognitive activities such as learning, understanding, and giving feedback on the best course of action. As such, they enhance software capabilities, and due to this, many software nowadays can automate some banking processes that involve customer accounting, making payments, or cash handling.

Therefore, customers could enjoy faster services at the comfort of staying home instead of forming long queues at banks. Customers can also benefit from using straightforward assistant services from their devices to make financial plans, whereby the software analyze their behavior and best interests for better well-planned and cost-effective actions.

QML can be used in communication to manage information and insist on better encryption methods. For example, through quantum key distribution (QKD), an untrusted party is prevented from eavesdropping on the information shared by, in context Alice (client) and Bob (server). Thus this demonstrates the capability of cryptographic algorithms securing data from attack or leaking, which will be a successful application in banking and finance. Furthermore, since AI and QML can fluently analyze data and give accurate results through algorithms, it can help to forecast risks in loans which can improve the long-term growth of industries, thus developing the economy.

2. Social networks

These tools have demonstrated the ability to drive the economy through social networking primarily, as Africa can acquire needed skills to understand its customer trends, offer preferred product or service (through recommendation systems), based on the data accumulated. This will help industries to effectively manage resources through citizen participation, thus promoting the market growth.

Nowadays, the same knowledge and technology are used in popular software, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, to suggest preferable connections and serve users with specific posts of interest in their feed. QML can also create a secure network by merging with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain, which will improve efficiency in systems that contain large data and also provide reliable data protection schemes.

Distribution of marketing content will also be faster and monitored easily across most social media platforms, with shortened links and some auto-scheduled shares. Industries in Africa could also use these technologies to recognize emerging customer trademarks and keep track of social mentions to identify approaches for better social media promotions.

3. Cybersecurity

AI can be used in the 4IR to strengthen cybersecurity in Africa by detecting data breaches to remove unwanted data or malware from systems being developed to lower the cyber-attack. This is done through analyzing patterns from input data and recognizing unusual patterns of behavior.

These could enable quality protection through QML in systems or accessories when using artificial neural networks and data mining techniques such as classification, clustering and regression-to- to ultimately give better security services. Through QML, it could be relatively easy and faster to determine how vulnerable or exposed the system is, guided by how the pattern behaves to recognize the infiltration points. This will therefore alert authorities much sooner to protect sensitive data from being swindled from their computers.

Nowadays, AI provides more intelligent biometric authentication systems such as face or voice recognition and fingerprint scanning across various devices. As a result, authentication is improved; for example, in voice recognition, tone, accent, and pitch are analyzed much faster, and biometric systems can identify unique voice impressions accurately.

QML will assist in storage and performance challenges, wherever systems contain large data, and also build systems that will transform current security initiatives, such as quantum sensors, quantum radars, and location detection, which cannot be interfered with easily. Furthermore, since these systems also use communication systems, they will be secured through quantum encryption.

4. Healthcare

Digital technology will play a significant role in making cost-effective algorithms to diagnose patients effectively by learning from past cases or reports to enhance clinical decisions. This technology can also monitor multiple patients at the same time through medical algorithms. These algorithms can also offer self-service to patients with health-related inquiries and thus save time, effort, and most importantly, lives.

Moreover, AI machines are capable of analyzing data from past surgeries recorded, and they could be more precise at detecting illnesses and even discover some new surgical procedures, which could improve the health facilities in Africa. Finally, in battling current medical concerns, AI and QML can track the spread of Covid-19 by effectively evaluating existing data to make predictions on infection rates across countries; this provides viable information and meaningful future guidance across Africa.

A lightly edited synopsis of Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Machine Learning for Economic Growth in Africa by Keaotshepha Karabo and Mhlambululi Mafu at Botswana International University of Science and Technology. 

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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