IBM today announced the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University) as the first African partner on the IBM Q Network.
Wits University will also be the gateway for academics across South Africa and to the 15 universities who are part of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA).
Quantum computing promises to be able to solve certain problems – such as chemical simulations and types of optimization – that will forever be beyond the practical reach of classical machines. IBM first made quantum computers available to the public in May 2016 through its IBM Q Experience quantum cloud service and has doubled the power of its quantum computers annually since 2017.
“This is the latest outcome of the joint partnership between IBM Research and Wits, which started in 2016 when IBM opened its second lab in Africa in Wits University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Johannesburg,” said Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Wits Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Postgraduate Affairs.
“To expand the IBM Q Network to include Wits will drive innovation in frontier-technologies and benefit African-based researchers, academics and students who now have access to decades of quantum computing capabilities at the click of a button.”
IBM established the IBM Q Network, a community of Fortune 500 companies, startups, academic institutions and research labs working with IBM to advance quantum computing and explore practical applications for business and science.
Researchers at Wits will investigate the use of quantum computing and machine learning in the fields of cosmology and molecular biology with a specific focus on HIV drug discovery.
The teams will also jointly study quantum teleportation, a field pioneered by IBM Fellow Charles Bennett.
“For Africa to remain competitive for the coming decades we must get the next generation of students quantum ready,” said Dr. Solomon Assefa, Vice President, Emerging Market Solutions and Director, IBM Research – Africa.
IBM’s recently unveiled IBM Q System One, is the world’s first integrated universal approximate quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use.
IBM’s most advanced universal quantum computing systems available through the IBM Q Experience platform.
More than 10 million experiments have run on the IBM Q Experience and users have published over 160 third-party research papers. Also, developers can work with Qiskit, a full-stack, open-source quantum software development kit, to create and run quantum computing programs.
To further increase skills development, IBM Q is hosting an invite-only Qiskit Camp in South Africa this December for 200 quantum researchers and computer scientists where they will learn in an immersive environment and receive hands-on training.