AWS steps up to help SA organisations battle pandemic fallout

Supports rapid deployment of cloud-based solutions.

Johannesburg, 13 Aug 2020
Read time 3min 40sec
Zubin Chagpar: head of MEA, Public Sector Sales at AWS
Zubin Chagpar: head of MEA, Public Sector Sales at AWS

AWS is moving to enable public and private sector organisations in South Africa to survive and transform themselves to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impacts.

AWS, currently conducting a survey on cloud impact in South Africa, has moved to collaborate with sectors such as healthcare and education to speed up responses to the pandemic.

Zubin Chagpar: Head of MEA, AWS Public Sector Sales, says: “At Amazon, we’ve been doing a lot of listening. We’ve been listening and learning from organisations of all sizes – from the World Health Organisation to small start-ups here in Africa – that have rapidly adapted to the challenging circumstances and refocused, quite literally, overnight. We have then taken what we have heard and have been looking at ways we can help during this crisis. The very nature of our business – enabling organisations to access scalable, dependable and highly secure computing power – has meant we are naturally playing an important role in the response to COVID-19, both at global and local level, here in South Africa. It’s a responsibility to our customers and the wider community, which we take very seriously.

We are always looking for the best way to help our customers, right now and in the long-term, which is why we are helping all customers access the technology and technical support they need right now.”

AWS has been working with a number of industries to use cloud technologies to accelerate digital transformation in four key areas: research, education, healthcare and citizen services, says Chagpar.

“In the research space, we have seen the rapid adoption of cloud technologies which are helping to speed up research into COVID-19 and rapidly speed up the search for a vaccine. With our Diagnostic Development Initiative and AWS COVID Data Lake, we have been directly contributing to this positive transformation,” he says.

During the pandemic, the education and learning sector have explored new ways to ensure millions of students continue to get the education they deserve – demonstrating firsthand the power of cloud computing, he says.

“We have seen schools, literally overnight, move rapidly to launch online to support the education of millions of students around the world. For example, AWS Partner Network (APN) partner Silicon Overdrive that has worked with one of South Africa’s largest research universities, the University of Witwatersrand, to migrate its Learning Management Systems to the AWS cloud. AWS’s availability, scalability and security compliance has enabled WITS to provide uninterrupted learning to students and postgraduates during the COVID-19 national lockdown.”

Chagpar says the impact of cloud services has been particularly profound in citizen services: “We have seen national and local governments stand up applications, or entire call centres in a matter of days. We have seen digital projects that would normally take months or years, completed in weeks or days. We’ve seen how providing access to scalable, dependable, and highly secure computing power is vital to educate citizens on measures to take in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 or quickly find medical help when they fall ill.

"GovChat, South Africa’s largest citizen engagement platform, launched a COVID-19 chatbot in less than two weeks on AWS. The chatbot provides health advice and recommendations on whether to take a test for COVID-19, information on the nearest COVID-19 testing facility, the ability to receive test results, and the ability for citizens to report COVID-19 symptoms for themselves, their family, or household members. The GovChat chatbot was offered to the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) to digitise, facilitate and track applications for COVID-19 distress grants, and has processed in excess of 100 million messages to date.”

AWS, in collaboration with ITWeb, will explore trends and opportunities to drive transformation through cloud technology in a webinar to be held on Thursday, 3 September. For more information, and to register for this event, click here.

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