Can Cognitive Computing Help Africa?

IBM’s $100M “Project Lucy” aims to solve grand challenges with help from Watson

IBM is bringing cognitive computing to Africa, including Watson, to help fuel development on the continent by tackling some of the big issues the continent is facing.

Two-thirds of children in Africa who do not receive schooling are girls who are often required to care for siblings: Photo: Tobbie, Nigeria.
“In the last decade, Africa has been a tremendous growth story — yet the continent’s challenges, stemming from population growth, water scarcity, disease, low agricultural yield and other factors are impediments to inclusive economic growth,” said Kamal Bhattacharya, Director, IBM Research — Africa.

By establishing the pan-African Center of Excellence for Data-Driven Development (CEDD), IBM will leverage the latest Watson cognitive technologies to provide its research partners with access to high-frequency and better organized data.

Africa’s Grand Challenges

Two of the focus areas will be healthcare and education.

Saheed Akindeinde, Research Scientist, Healthcare Lead at IBM Research — Africa

Watson is well known for its work with cancer at Sloan Kettering. In Africa it will help community health workers who deliver most of the healthcare outside of cities. CEDD will collect encyclopedic knowledge about traditional and non-traditional diseases in Africa. With access to Watson’s cognitive intelligence, doctors, nurses and field workers will get help in diagnosing illnesses and identifying the best treatment for each patient.

Half of all African children can’t read or write or do basic maths. With help from Watson technologies, cognitive computing will be used to look at the wider picture, such as understanding why student attendance is low and correlation to health and sanitation issues.

Watson: Helping to solve Africa’s grand challenges
“The next wave of development in Africa requires a new collaborative approach where nonprofit and commercial organizations like RTI and IBM work together to consolidate, analyze and act upon the continent’s data.”
Aaron Williams, Executive Vice President for International Development, RTI International.

The World Is Our Lab Africa

IBM recently organized an initiative asking people from across Africa to submit images which best illustrate Africa’s grand challenges and opportunities and help illustrate the mission of IBM’s new Africa Research Lab. ‘The World is Our Lab — Africa’ project has generated over 1200 images from across 25 African countries helping to tell the other side of the continent’s story.

The World is our Lab: Africa

More information on “Project Lucy”

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