The adoption and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are rapidly increasing globally. AI systems are becoming a new infrastructure layer with transformative potential. In Africa, AI creation and implementation are transforming our lives and cultures in various ways, including economically, socially, and politically. AI will be critical to Africa’s future socio-economic growth, enabling current and future generations of Africans to live in a more prosperous, healthy, secure, and sustainable world.
AI is expected to enhance productivity and job outcomes across a wide variety of Africa’s sectors while also improving creative processes and generating new leapfrogging opportunities. Sectors such as agriculture, retail, and manufacturing have the potential to move up the value chain as companies begin to produce more complex and valuable products and services enabled by AI. Workers themselves would also benefit from having mundane tasks automated, leaving them with more time for other exciting and essential work.
The potential of AI in Africa
Providing a “top-down” estimate of AI’s benefits to African economies is difficult, given the broad scope of different AI applications.
Educational development in the region continues to improve, but existing gaps provide solid opportunities for AI to accelerate this pace. AI can play a substantial role in bridging the literacy divide through text and visual-to-audio applications. AI can also personalize learning, provide real-time feedback, and assess student progress.
Africa lacks immediate access to healthcare. This trend differs across countries – at least half the population of Chad and Somalia do not have access to healthcare, and close to 20% experience the same challenge in South Africa. AI-powered algorithms can help to deliver more services to a broader population by expanding access to effective diagnosis and treatment provided by specialists.
Governments in Africa have made significant progress in public service delivery. Particularly in e-governance – the UN’s E-Government Development Index indicates that the continent has doubled its performance score from 0.2 in 2003 to almost 0.4 in 2020. Despite that, the figure is still below the world average of 0.6 in 2020, showing that Africa still has a long way to go. AI technologies can be used to underpin essential public services as well as operations.
Three Major Myths and Risks Surrounding AI:
The pace of AI research breakthroughs is now being matched by real-world applications, offering new possibilities for boosting productivity and insight across virtually every field. At the same time, AI is shining a new light on old and challenging questions. Therefore, it is crucial to study the impact of AI on society. However, there needs to be more research focused on Africa on several key AI-related topics, creating a need to conduct more profound research to understand local impact and inform decision-making.
- AI and its impact on jobs in Africa: AI enables the automation of specific tasks and roles, creating a perception that AI could displace many workers and create significant employment losses. However, AI is more likely to augment human capabilities and skills, enhance productivity, create new job roles, and even transform existing ones.
- AI for SMEs and individuals in Africa: AI’s reach is no longer restricted to only large corporations. Significant strides in AI tech mean a broad spectrum of organizations and people can tap into its potential. While some high-level AI technologies might incur substantial costs and demand significant resources, many AI implementation options exist.
- AI, privacy, and security in Africa: Since AI systems rely on large data sets for learning, there needs to be more concern about the collection and processing of personal and sensitive data. In reality, AI also has the potential to enhance privacy and security measures. AI can be used to develop robust security systems, detect anomalies, and protect sensitive data.
How CSM Tech’s AI expertise can spur Africa’s transformation
CSM Tech has demonstrated its expertise in deploying AI solutions that have changed the contours of governance across domains for the better. We have embedded AI into many solutions in India across verticals like agriculture, mining, citizen service delivery, healthcare, etc. We are capable of crafting and delivering bespoke AI-powered solutions in sync with the requirements of Africa. In some of the flagship solutions that we have deployed in Africa and how we have leveraged AI and ML to streamline operations and impact) ……. Here are a few promising areas where our AI-embedded solutions can drive the wheels of transformation.
- Social Registry: AI for identifying and authenticating genuine beneficiaries and rooting out ineligible/ghost beneficiaries, AI/ML/NLP for grievance resolution.
- Mining: AI and ML for the provenance of minerals, ensuring real-time pit-to-plant visibility, checking transit leakages, averting revenue losses, forecasting models for production, dispatch and revenue, fraud analytics, etc.
- Timber Traceability: AI for provenance, end-to-end visibility in timber movement.
- Online Tea/Commodity Auctions: AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of historical data to identify trends, patterns, and market dynamics, enabling auction organizers to predict demand-supply imbalances accurately. This predictive capability helps set appropriate reserve prices, minimizing risks for both buyers and sellers. ML algorithms can automate repetitive tasks such as data entry, documentation verification, and bid classification, reducing human error while significantly accelerating auction cycles.
- PSNP (Productivity Safety Net Program): This one-of-a-kind Integrated Beneficiary Management MIS effectively targets beneficiaries, monitors program delivery & fund transfer, and grievance redressal across multiple schemes of multiple departments of the Ethiopian government. We have a scope to induce AI/ML for application enhancement.
- Access to Healthcare: AI algorithms can analyze large amounts of data to identify patterns and predict disease outbreaks and also can enable accurate diagnosis through medical imaging analysis, reducing waiting times and improving the quality of care.
As one of the AI-implementing companies, CSM developed its own non-human AI-powered
employee who can fine-tune the language models, utilize human feedback, and reinforce learning methods to secure a best-in-class experience for everyone. Besides Medha K, we are developing our own Generative AI framework.
Furthermore, Africa has over 2,400 AI organizations operating across several industries, including health, wellness, fitness, farming, law training, and insurance. This includes a rapidly growing ecosystem of startups. While Africa’s tech boom is often linked to fintech, the largest tech acquisition in Africa is an AI-focused enterprise solutions company, InstaDeep, which was acquired for $682 million in January 2023. Africa has recently commenced its journey in respect of leveraging AI and is well-positioned to develop a coordinated strategic approach to the use of AI at the national and regional levels.