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United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) in partnership with the Carnegie Africa Diaspora Fellowship Program (CADFP) and Intel yesterday held a conference on the development and harnessing of High Performance Computing (HPC) and its benefits to the African continent. The conference provided a platform through which key stakeholders such as universities, technology companies, industry, government, research bodies and development partners would help establish a network of HPCs across Africa.

High Performance Computing (HPC) can be termed as the practice of aggregating computing power to achieve much higher performance. This in comparison to performance that could be delivered from a single computing device. High Performance Computing makes possible the harnessing of data, advancing of research and drawing of insights.

As a continent, we lag behind in high performance computing that is essential for the digital revolution. For Africa to be able to contribute to research and innovation and also to find home grown solutions to its socio-economic challenges, it is important that measures are taken to provide it with access to cutting-edge computing technologies essential for research, innovation, growth and jobs.

That being said, there is an urgent need to invest in high performance computing platforms in Africa. This because modern science which drives innovation involves very high computing power and the capability to deal with massive volumes of data. For instance high performance computing can help you complete a time consuming operation in a short time.

An automotive engineer who works for say Mobius can use it to test their car designs using computer simulations. This is better and faster than building an expensive prototype only to trash it later when the designs don’t work. The advantage to a motor company¬†is that their product (the car) will reach the market faster. Using the simulations will also give them a more accurate picture of how well their car is designed therefore making it safer due to the reduced margin of error.

High performance computers are also able to process large numbers of tasks simultaneously. As in the case of an online shop, a web engineer can use high performance computers to boost the website so that the site’s servers and database can handle large volumes of transactions without the customers experiencing bad delays.

Currently, the only country in Africa that has high performance computing is South Africa. This puts them miles ahead of us in terms of scientific research and development and digital evolution. However, there are plans to introduce high performance computing nodes in North, West, Central, South and East Africa. The East African node will be housed at United Sates International University- Africa (USIU). The development of these five nodes will ensure that the continent is able to make proper steps to solve pertinent problems in the areas of food security, health and life sciences, sustainable industrial growth, economic research and to boost capacity of SMEs.

The conference ended with a call to action to researchers, technology companies, universities, development institutions, corporate organization or government function who are keen to transform Africa through High Performance Computing to get in touch with USIU- Africa.

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