An AI-Powered Africa Is Not A Pipe Dream

The world is on the brink of another industrial revolution that is the potentially the most disruptive and complex transformation ever. A study by McKinsey suggests this revolution would be 10 times faster, 300 times the scale and over 3000 times more impactful than the first Industrial Revolution. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the leading technologies spearheading this revolution.

AI represents a group of emerging technologies that make machines to work and react like humans. It is redefining the way people live and do business globally.

The world is taking note of Africa’s slow but consistent absorption and use of AI and some tech giants are buying into this development.

iCog Labs were the first AI lab in Ethiopia. Getnet Assefa, the chief executive of iCog, started out in 2013 with just 4 programmers. Today, he and his team are proudly part of the developers behind one the world’s most famous humanoids, Sophia. The AI industry is expanding rapidly in Africa.

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In June 2018, Google launched an AI lab in Accra, Ghana. The company has built a reputation as one that pushes the boundaries of human knowledge through curiosity.

Before Google’s announcement, AI was already a major subject in developer communities across Africa. In Kenya, applications like Sophie Bot, Vital Signs and Tala all had AI integration. Nigeria and South Africa also had similar applications that used AI in inventive ways. It is obvious that the flame of curiosity was already burning in Africa before Google’s lab was built. No doubt, it will help keep the flame burning.

WATTBA – What A Time to Be African!

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Africa is the world’s next growth frontier! There are opportunities in manufacturing, agriculture, mining, art, fashion etc. AI integration and automation can help these industries to increase productivity and grow faster.

African leaders need to introduce policies that would position us to make the most of these opportunities. Our curriculum needs to evolve to remain relevant as society changes. An estimated 65% of children in primary school today would end up with jobs that do not yet exist.

The popular notion was that AI would replace Human Intelligence and lead to massive unemployment. However, AI will provide more jobs. Gartner suggests that the AI market will provide 2.3 million jobs by 2020 while PWC predicts it will be the biggest commercial opportunity by 2030, generating about $1.2 trillion in Africa, Oceania and Asia (excluding China).

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A.I could lead the fourth industrial revolution, and this time Africa can join the blistering train of progress.

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