On July 11, 2016, Professor Abid Yahya, a distinguished scholar in engineering and a researcher of international repute, delivered the maiden edition of the 10th Anniversary Public Lecture series at the McCarthy Hill campus. The topic for the lecture was “The Importance of Mobile Computing and Cloud Technology in the 21st Century”.
The lecture series forms part of activities earmarked to celebrate the University’s 10th anniversary. In attendance at the lecture were Regent staff, students, participants from various industries, and friends of the University College.
Dr. Prince Kofi Kludjeson, the Executive Chairman of the Kludjeson International Group of Companies served as the chairperson for the lecture. In his introductory remarks, Dr Kludjeson expressed delight at the progress the University had made over the years, and recounted memories of Regent’s humble beginnings when it operated from a rented building in Accra. He remarked that he uses the Regent story often to encourage would-be entrepreneurs not to be afraid of starting small.
“There is nothing in this world that begins in a big way. Things start small”, he stressed. “The good Lord has given everyone a brain and a heart, and what we achieve in life depends on what we do with these gifts”, he added.
Dr. Kludjeson expressed optimism about wide application of cloud technology especially in the educational sector.
Mobile Computing and Cloud technology in the 21st Century
In the lecture, Professor Abid Yahya noted that the topic, "The Importance of Mobile Computing and Cloud Technology in the 21st Century" is relevant, particularly to the African context. He expressed the hope that post graduate students would find research in the field of cloud technology interesting and rewarding.
He drew attention to the fact that cloud computing technology is at the heart of many popular social media platforms such as twitter and instagram, and applications like Gmail, Skype, Flickr, YouTube and WhatsApp, that are now being commonly used in Africa.
Prof. Yahya explained that through cloud storage, large documents can be saved and accessed anywhere in the world from an internet-enabled device. This, he stated, includes large files in different formats. An application like Google drive, that utilizes the power of cloud technology storage capacity, has for example, made it possible to readily upload, save and share important documents with colleagues, friends and business partners. This technology could also be applied to collaborative projects.
Professor Abid Yahya intimated that cloud computing was for more than just storage, explaining that it existed in three service models: infrastructure as service, platform as service, and software as service.
“Online banking applications, online photo editing software and social media applications are examples of software as a service,” he said.
He introduced the concept of “Internet of Things (IoT)”, a system in which devices and other items interconnect, collect and share data.
He said that according to experts, there could be more than 50 billion devices connected to IoT by the year 2020.
Prof. Yahya further noted that IoT continued to revolutionize sectors such as healthcare, education, retail trade, the manufacturing industry, and transportation globally. In the area of healthcare, and specifically, for chronic diseases, IoT is readily applicable for a "Smart Hospital" system. This makes it possible for patients to be monitored by doctors remotely through wearable health devices that transmit Patient Generated Data. Also, tagged surgical swabs, for example, could be digitally monitored to ensure that none is left in patients after surgery, avoiding doubts experienced with manual counting of swabs.
The IoT is also effective for tracking teaching equipment at schools using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). In the retail sector, Prof. Yahya revealed that IoT is being used to enhance the shopping experience for customers. When this tool is effectively applied, there could be real-time inventory coupled with automated store replenishment of used items in the store.
Prof. Abid Yahya predicted a significant upsurge in the use of cloud computing and Internet of Things in Africa. He maintained that cloud technology and mobile computing devices together present Africa with a unique opportunity to leap frog critical infrastructure deficits.
Mr. Kwame Ahiabenu II, the President of Penplusbytes who was the respondent to the lecture, noted some of the challenges facing the technology sector in Africa. According to him, the lethargy in embracing change and the relatively low number of PhD graduates in the fields of computer science, maths and related disciplines, were factors causing stagnation in industrial growth in Ghana and consequently in the economy. He also drew attention to the issue of security in cloud computing technology.
He was optimistic however that with the right national policies in place, the information technology sector could experience tremendous growth in Ghana and Africa.
The 10th Anniversary Public Lectures seeks to stimulate intellectual discussions, with the aim of bringing answers to developmental challenges facing Ghana and Africa.