Microsoft South Africa says it is working with its partner ecosystem and customers to showcase the power of technology, particularly AI and cloud technologies, in helping the country’s mining industry accelerate digital transformation to “reimagine new and better ways of working, drive sustainable recovery, and transform mining communities”.
This follows the launch of Microsoft’s Mining Core – AI Centre of Excellence for Mining facility in Johannesburg earlier this month. The Mining Core, which is the first of its kind in South Africa, makes use of the company’s extensive partner ecosystem. “It allows customers to immerse themselves in emerging technologies to build and create solutions that not only overcome specific business challenges but also broadly enable the sector to grow and prosper,” Microsoft said.
Amr Kamel, Enterprise Director at Microsoft South Africa, explained the industry’s importance to South Africa: “Mining is a critical industry in South Africa, and has historically been a major contributor to the country’s GDP, tax revenue and employment: last year alone, the mining sector employed over 450 000 people, contributed ZAR24.3 billion ($1.5 billion) in taxes and ZAR360.9 billion to GDP.”
The sector has faced challenges in recent years. These include declining output, weakening global cost competitiveness based on the volatility of commodity prices, regulatory uncertainty and unreliable energy supply, according to a report by the country’s Minerals Council.
Combined with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear the sector needs solutions that help it regain its competitiveness and become a key contributor and driver of economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic.
Technology holds the key to achieving those goals, according to Microsoft.
“Accelerated digital transformation, and the introduction of solutions through emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and data analytics, have the power to help the industry adapt, reinvent and transform in a sustainable and responsible way,” it said.
Kamel added: “Together with our partner ecosystem, we are working to help our customers to navigate three phases – response, recovery, and reimagine – in order to maintain continuity, remain open, drive operational performance and create new business models even in the most difficult of circumstances.”
These solutions, which are conceptualised and built collaboratively, are anchored in four main areas: community services and social impact; health and safety; environment; and responsible digital transformation.