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How Bad Is Africa’s Internet?

A decadelong quest aims to pinpoint the Internet bottlenecks holding Africa back

8 min read
A decadelong quest aims to pinpoint the Internet bottlenecks holding Africa back
Illustration: Dan Page


The University of Kinshasa, the largest university in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has nearly 30 000 students, faculty, and research staff—but only 800 computers. And although its internal data network is fast enough to support on-campus e-mail, virtual library access, and online coursework, its link to the outside world is no better than that of a typical household in the United States or Europe.

When I visited the university about a year ago, the restricted capacity meant that only 200 senior staff had Internet privileges—for whatever those were worth. I was able to go online for a short time, but the connection was barely usable. Web pages timed out or loaded so slowly that after about 10 minutes, I simply gave up.

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Video Friday: Humanoid Soccer

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
Humans and human-size humanoid robots stand together on an indoor soccer field at the beginning of a game

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Computing With Chemicals Makes Faster, Leaner AI

Battery-inspired artificial synapses are gaining ground

5 min read
Array of devices on a chip

This analog electrochemical memory (ECRAM) array provides a prototype for artificial synapses in AI training.

IBM research

How far away could an artificial brain be? Perhaps a very long way off still, but a working analogue to the essential element of the brain’s networks, the synapse, appears closer at hand now.

That’s because a device that draws inspiration from batteries now appears surprisingly well suited to run artificial neural networks. Called electrochemical RAM (ECRAM), it is giving traditional transistor-based AI an unexpected run for its money—and is quickly moving toward the head of the pack in the race to develop the perfect artificial synapse. Researchers recently reported a string of advances at this week’s IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM 2022) and elsewhere, including ECRAM devices that use less energy, hold memory longer, and take up less space.

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Accelerate the Future of Innovation

Download these free whitepapers to learn more about emerging technologies like 5G, 6G, and quantum computing

1 min read
Keysight
Keysight

Looking for help with technical challenges related to emerging technologies like 5G, 6G, and quantum computing?

Download these three whitepapers to help inspire and accelerate your future innovations:

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