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Huawei Cloud readies Pangu LLM to meet possible demand in SA

Christopher Tredger
By Christopher Tredger, Portals editor
Johannesburg, 24 Jun 2024
Calvin Huang, head of solution architect, Huawei Cloud SA.
Calvin Huang, head of solution architect, Huawei Cloud SA.

Huawei Cloud confirmed its Pangu large language model (LLM) could be made available to South Africa should this market show demand for the technology as the company moves to entrench its AI-driven Everything-as-a-Service (EaaS) strategy.

Speaking at the company’s 5 annual ICT Editors Xchange hosted last week in Johannesburg, Calvin Huang, head of solutions architect, Huawei Cloud SA said Huawei is focused on building AI native infrastructure to support AI adoption and supply the requisite computing power.

The Chinese tech giant launched an updated Pangu 5.0 LLM, and the latest version of its Harmony operating system, HarmonyOS Next, at its annual developer conference in Dongguan last week.

This new OS is designed to be used across all Huawei products, from smartphones, PCs and tablets, to cars and wearables, to enterprise applications

Huang said that the multi-layer Pangu model was developed using Huawei’s software, and in China, the company is experimenting with technology use cases including in-vehicle automation, weather prediction in agriculture as well as the deployment of virtual humans within education and e-commerce sectors.

Pangu 5.0 comes in four different sizes - the smallest model can be embedded in smartphones, and the midsize model has up to 90 billion parameters. The "ultra" model, with up to 230 billion parameters, is designed for complex enterprise tasks, while the "super" model has a one trillion parameters, ccorfing to Huawei.

SA market ready

ICT analyst and CEO of World Wide Worx Arthur Goldstuck said the SA GenAI Roadmap 2024 released in May this year reflects a market ready to embrace GenAI.

The research shows that 45% of respondents are not using GenAI, but plan to use it, while 24% use it unofficially (shadow AI), and just 11% use it as an officially approved tool.

The research, based on input from 100 of South Africa’s largest companies, also showed that 96,7% of respondents use or plan to use Chatbots, 95,6% use or plan to use text/written content, while 93,3% use or plan to use video creation.

“If you look at the statistics for the impact AI has on operations, 95% of companies reported positive impact on productivity, 71% said that AI had a positive impact on competitiveness… but it’s with turnover where the rubber hits the road because businesses want a return on investment and over 70% reported a positive impact on turnover,” said Goldstuck.

However, there is a need for policy to help regulate AI’s use, particularly in key sectors like education and healthcare, he said. In much the same way that SA’s PoPIA legislation is largely modelled on Europe’s GDPR, South Africa can leverage AI policy frameworks from abroad to construct its own policy.

Goldstuck advised that rather than view AI as a threat to people, businesses should consider the careful, responsible use of the technology “to make us better humans”.