IBM has launched a new Quantum computer program in Africa that will engage 16 universities across the continent. The big tech company made the announcement at the Wits University in South Africa when it further revealed that the universities will be roped into the program from nine countries on the continent.
The Quantum computer, named IBM Q, uses quantum bits (qubits) giving it super advanced computing capability way out of reach of even the most advanced supercomputers.
“Q systems are designed to one-day tackle problems… seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle,” said IBM in a statement. The IBM Q could tackle complex problems in various spheres such as financial data analysis, optimization of logistics, mining, natural resources management, and minimizing global financial risks among others.
“It’s not your usual ones and zeros. It’s about the superposition of states to create qubit,” said Solomon Assefa, the VP of IBM Research Africa while explaining how IBM Q works.
“Because of that, and that it has so many different states, the amount of computing you can do becomes exponential.”
The African universities will be accessing the IBM Q remotely via the cloud. The quantum computer will be physically accessible at IBM’s Yorktown Heights research center in New York. The company believes the quantum computer could prove very useful in the research and development works tackling some of the most complex problems on Earth. Things like the search for a cure for HIV and TB among other deadly diseases.
The nine countries where IBM Q will be looking to partner with local universities are:
“What excites me here, is for once we are ahead in Africa for joining this movement. In five to 10 years, Q will have significant impact, but if we can start the wave now, you never know what kind of applications and research will come out of this technology,” said Assefa.
Wits University in South Africa will be the epicenter for the African wing of the IBM Q project. In December, IBM will convene a camp bringing 200 computer scientists from the nine African countries to chart the way forward on the use of the quantum computer.
If you are a computer scientist and would love the opportunity to attend this camp and possibly get access to IBM Q, you can apply here for consideration.