With its strong investment in 4G and 5G internet networks and introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) cognitive algorithms in the company’s package, Ericsson has claimed a leading position as a game-changer in the use of technology for economic development.
KT Press talked to Jacques Kabandana, Country Manager of Ericsson Rwanda to find out more on this milestone and below are excerpts.
KT Press(KTP): Will cognitive network based on AI tech be of any help to resolve food shortage in Africa? How farmers can implement a tangible solution to avoid shortage in production?
Jacques Kabandana(JK): Farmers around the world are realizing how important digital technology, robotics, image recognition, sensors, precision farming, big data and analytics are to ensure the future profitability of their industry, addressing sustainability issues, and improving resilience in the face of climate change.
The introduction of AI cognitive algorithms will enable networks to perceive current conditions – making it easier to plan, decide and act on those conditions to achieve better outcomes. Using our 4G and 5G technology with low latency alongside with the AI and Automation, we can enable farmers to use drones and self-guided tractors powered by GPS navigation systems to monitor crops.
Robotics can also be utilized in various agriculture applications – helping to improve the food production lifecycle, boost efficiency and minimize waste.
KTP: You are talking about zero touch vision as a game-changer in the next five years how do you see sub-Saharan countries taking advantage of it for real-life challenges?
JK: As automation and AI technologies improve, zero-touch networks of the future will soon be able to automatically determine which actions to take with minimal human intervention. By introducing of AI cognitive algorithms, we are augmenting human capabilities, creating digital and powerful hybrid systems of man and machine.
AI and automation are not very useful if they do not know what do to. That is why it is crucial to merge telecom subject matter expertise, data science knowledge and the pure computational force of machines into one journey. This type of digital transformation will greatly benefit Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of improving quality of service, delivering better remote connectivity to schools for education and developing remote health services.
KTP: Tell us more about Ericsson AI-driven operation portfolios. Are the SON (Self Optimizing Networks) a reality today? What are the successful use cases?
JK: Ericsson’s AI-driven Operation Portfolio is branded as Ericsson Operations Engine (EOE), which is the set of capabilities that allow operators to reap the benefits of our evolution in automation, intelligence and deep domain expertise. Ericsson Operations Engine enables our customers to buy business outcomes rather than managing a complex outsourcing project. Here, it should be understood that although the EOE is not only about data, automation & data platforms, automation rules, and predictive algorithms, it is even more about new processes and ways of working, people, and skills.
To get the most out of our investments Managed Services is running GAIA (Global AI Accelerator), where 300+ data scientist work with seasoned telecom experts making magic. Magic that goes straight into our Operations engine for testing in real life. We are also adapting our skillset inside MS. From repetitive process task to high value work like solving complex problems, reshaping automation rules, training AI algorithms and linking business needs to technology capabilities.
Regarding Ericsson’s SON philosophy, it is based on applying specific SON features where they become most effective in a network topology (Hybrid SON). SON features that require close to real-time decisions and work in a limited network area are typically delivered as Distributed SON features (D-SON), for example Inter-Frequency Load Balancing (IFLB), Adjacent Neighbor Relations (ANR) and Automated Mobility Optimization (AMO).
KTP: Are the SON helping rural areas for electrification, irrigation, and logistics?
JK: With 4G and 5G technology, Many applications can be used relying on the low latency and high throughput. Self-Optimizing Networks (SON) which is based on the AI can have many killer applications like running robots that can be used for efficient irrigation for lands.
SON features that operate over the complete network and thus require longer time span for data collection or need to be multi-technology/multi-vendor capable in order to make decisions are typically delivered as Centralized SON features (C-SON), for example Remote Electrical Tilt Optimization (RET).
KTP: Tell us about Ericsson in the East Africa region, what are main areas in which you work?
JK: Ericsson is well established in East Africa with operations in Mozambique, Swaziland, South Africa, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Seychelles and Rwanda. We operate in the Information and Communication System (ICT) sector together with our partners being the service providers such as MTN, Safaricom, Tigo , Ethiotel and Airtel. Our comprehensive portfolio ranges across Networks, Digital Services, Managed Services and Emerging Business.
KTP: In Rwanda, you are supporting telecommunications infrastructures, are you aware that there is an important need of training and capacity building in the STEM sectors?
JK: Ericsson is committed to developing STEM leaders through digital transformation initiatives and events. We are fully aware of the challenges in Rwanda when it comes to capacity building in various sectors including STEM which is one of the objectives of the Rwanda National Employment Program (NEP) and we are working on addressing its key objectives. Since its establishment in 2009, Ericsson Rwanda has focused on recruiting and empowering local talents, we are proud to have more local than foreign resources in our workforce.
KTP: Will you work with Rwanda(ns) to continue what you established?
JK: Absolutely, one of the most important pillars Ericsson believes in is localization and commits to continue to work with Rwanda and its people. Our focus on research and innovation delivers sustainable connectivity solutions that scale globally, so the benefits of technology become available to all.
Only through partnerships with customers, academia, and international organisations, can we bring our life-changing technologies to the world at scale. Our innovative and entrepreneurial approach to Rwanda has driven continual and significant creative collaborations. The momentum is strong, and it’s growing every day.