While dozens, including the heads of OpenAI and Google Deepmind, have backed statements warning about potential disaster scenarios around AI – even the extinction of humanity – others in the field have said AI fears are overblown.
One thing is certain: AI is on track to be the next big global technology shift, while in Africa, it has the ability to transform the way businesses are run and societies function. More importantly, according to Mustapha Zaouini, the Chairman of AI in Africa, the continent is now exploring AI to solve pressing issues including poverty, unemployment, and inequality.
“While Africa has unique challenges, such as disparity in internet access, it’s steadily embracing AI,” said Mr. Zaouni, a panellist at the GITEX Africa AI Summit on the topic of Responsible Generative AI.
“Readiness varies across countries, and there’s a need to invest in infrastructure, education, and policy-making to fully harness AI. Ensuring equitable access to technology and bridging the digital divide are crucial steps to prepare for AI’s impact in Africa.”
Simon See, the Global Head of Nvidia AI Technology Centre in Singapore, and another speaker on Friday said, with the right investments and policies, AI can help Africa to achieve its development goals and improve the lives of its people.
“In Africa, the demand for AI skills is expected to grow by 36 percent between 2020 and 2025,” said Mr. See, whose American-headquartered Nvidia makes specialist AI chips, with a market value that briefly surpassed US$1 trillion this week.
“This growth is driven by the continent’s young population, as well as its investments in start-ups and innovation. The growth of AI is creating new jobs in Africa, as companies look to hire experts to help them develop and implement AI-powered products and services.”
Elevating African talent to the forefront of a new global workforce
Mr. See said Africa is still in the early stages of AI adoption, but there’s a growing interest in the technology across the continent: “Several African countries have developed national AI strategies, and there’re a number of start-ups and research institutions working on AI-related projects,” he said.
Dr. Adel Alsharji, the COO of Presight, a UAE-based AI-powered big data analytics company, delivered the keynote address on the Societal Impact of Artificial Intelligence at the GITEX Africa AI Summit, one of ten conference tracks at the inaugural GITEX Africa, the continent’s largest tech and start-up exhibition that took place in Marrakech from 31st May to 2nd June 2023.
Dr. Alsharji said Africa is the second-fastest growing region globally in AI adoption: “Africa’s AI journey is gaining momentum, and this progress highlights the continent’s readiness to explore and harness the potential of AI for driving economic growth and addressing local challenges, ultimately benefiting the greater good of its people,” said Dr. Alsharji, adding that demand for AI-related jobs will increase two-fold over the next three years.
“A study by McKinsey Global Institute predicts that AI could add US$13 trillion to the global economy by 2030, while the number of AI-related jobs in Africa alone is expected to grow by 200 percent by 2025.”
Mr. Zaouini, whose AI in Africa is a non-profit organisation aimed at empowering African youth for an inclusive AI future, concluded that in Africa, AI should be seen as a tool to leapfrog traditional stages of development while elevating African talent to the forefront of a new global workforce.
“The African societal impact of AI is immense, as it revolutionises the way we work and live,” concluded Mr. Zaouini. “After the internet, the second revolution was probably the social dilemma, but AI is an even bigger revolution than all of them.”
AI-powered health-tech solution transforms African blood donations
GITEX Africa, which concluded on Friday 2nd June in the Red City of Marrakech, gathered thousands of attendees from 120 countries over its three-day run, all looking to network and develop meaningful business connections with the 900 exhibiting companies and start-ups across 10 halls and 45,000sqm of exhibition expanse.
AI and it’s far-reaching multisectoral impact were also evident on the exhibition floor, with many exhibitors showcasing how the AI boom is turbocharging waves of innovation across industries, from education and agriculture, to transport, retail, energy, or logistics.
BetaLife, an award-winning Nigerian start-up epitomised this movement in the healthcare sector. The cloud-based AI-powered platform connects hospitals and blood banks using advanced algorithms, ensuring the efficient flow of lifesaving blood products to patients in need.
Mubarak Ayanniyi, the 21-year old founder and CEO, said the greatest advantage of Betalife is its ability to analyse copious data via an AI-powered algorithm that accurately predicts when, where, and in what amounts blood donations are required, thereby directing resources and allocating donations when needed, ultimately saving countless lives.
“BetaLife has revolutionised the way that blood donations are managed in Africa”, said Ayanniyi.
“Instead of relying on manual processes, hospitals and blood banks are now using BetaLife to predict when and where blood donations are needed most. This has led to more efficient distribution of blood products, reducing waste and ensuring that those who need it most receive the lifesaving treatment they require.”
GITEX Africa was held under the High Patronage of King Mohammed VI, and hosted by the Digital Development Agency (ADD), under the authority of the Moroccan Ministry of Digital Transition and Administration Reform.