How African AI Ecosystem Coping with Global Forces

Africa continues to reel under drastic economic and healthcare issues. Due to severe dearth of digital facilities in the continent, over 65% of the total population in Africa still lives under drought, poverty and healthcare risks. In this era where global forces reckon AI and ML to be life changers (and, life givers, in some countries), why is Africa still behind the race?

There are two key reasons for the massive lag that AI faces in the AI race. Firstly, the internet speed and span of telecommunication services is very limited in the continent. Only 31% of the total population has an access to internet services, of which only 24% agree to receiving consistent data services. Secondly, in the continent where 3 million of the population dies due to healthcare or poverty related diseases, AI as a technology doesn’t seem like a viable option for survival.

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But, why Africa has a different challenge in the AI race?

Africa is endowed with both natural and human races, yet the tech industry is not conducible to sustain. Largely because of the drive in the human population to take up challenging IT related roles. Education in Africa is not structured and most of the population took off to the US, France, UK, India and Australia to pursue their ambitions, with only 6% ever returning to their homes.

Compared to 3 trillion USD investments into Deep Learning and Data Science projects around the world, only $560 million USD would be snapped by Africa. In order to encourage investors to put money in one basket for Africa’s AI growth, most would refrain from doing so. The political instability and guerilla force working to destabilize the governments have a part to play in this fiasco.

Things Change, but Slowly in Africa

However, that’s not what it looks like. AI engineers in Africa are working day in and out, burning the midnight oil to constantly push Deep Learning Courses and Online Jobs to young generation. If Deep Learning Courses are seen as means to provide jobs, reduce inequalities, and build technology infrastructure, Indian engineers and IT workforce have a major role to play.

A large part of South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and Senegal could be considered as brown-field regions for AI and Deep Learning Projects. In 2018, Google AI team drove massive infrastructure and finance into Africa, opening numerous offices and releasing AI and Digital Marketing related projects in different parts of the continent. AI Research Lab in Accra, Ghana is a good example of how things are likely to change in the coming months.

Let’s hope we see Indians playing a major role in Africa’s AI journey.

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