A Chinese-built supercomputer, with processing capacity of 36 trillion calculations per second, was commissioned Friday in Zimbabwe, one of a very few African countries to equip with a supercomputer.
The facility, housed in University of Zimbabwe, was provided by China's leading personal computer and server manufacturer Inspur Group with a 5.5 million U.S. dollars interest-free loan committed by the Chinese government. The supercomputer is expected to be used in agriculture, weather forecast, mining, gene technology, and stimulation, enabling Zimbabwe's scientific research to make a great leap forward for the next five to ten years, said Huang Gang, deputy president of Inspur Group.
Huang said while the United States owns the world's leading supercomputer technology, it is China that brings such technology to the world of developing countries with affordable cost. Till now, Inspur has helped Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Cuba own and operate high performance computing centers.
He said, armed with the supercomputer, scientists in Zimbabwe can now process big data, for example, in weather forecasting to predict weather changes with unprecedented precision. The same technology can also help miners pinpoint sites that hold oil and other key mineral resources.
"If used properly and extensively, the supercomputer can bring fundamental changes to Zimbabwe enabling sophisticated researches to be conducted and becoming a hub for training cloud computing experts in Africa," Huang said. "Its contribution to national development can't be rivaled by the building of government offices and roads, the mainstream Chinese-aid projects. "
Supercomputer is a rarity not just in Africa, but across the developing world. Over a year since the agreement was signed, dozens of Zimbabwean researchers received trainings both in Zimbabwe and China to be able to operate the system.
A committee on high performance computing was set up, pooling together experts from learning and research institutes across the country and from different industries. Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Lin Lin said the commission of the high performance computing center, enabling Zimbabwe to become the fourth country in Africa to own such a facility, is an important part of China-Zimbabwe cooperation that "both sides should be proud of."
Zimbabwe's Minister of High Education Oppah Muchinguri said as a country, Zimbabwe has high expectations on the nation's future in the area of computation science and engineering, which will provide new and emerging technology that is fundamental for social and economic transformation.