In many aspects, Africa is rising. Whether it is rising at a speed fast enough to accelerate it to the level of the developed world as fast as it would be desired is another debate altogether .What is agreeable though is that Africa has put its best foot forward in several ways and it is just a matter of time before the right cogwheels begin to grind. When that happens, Africa will be unstoppable.
In spite of the immense challenges that this very promising continent face today, it continues to perform considerably well in adoption, creation and consumption technologies. Countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria are home to some of the most innovative startups.
Backed by the advantage of a huge youthful and well-schooled population, the African continent has the right combination of factors to facilitate a rapid acceleration to development.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one facet of technology that harbors great potential in improving lives, reducing inequalities and addressing key shortcomings in various fields. In Africa, the effectiveness of AI and its eventual total usefulness to businesses, governments and institutions is heavily dependent on whether the investments will be made to tap its potential.
At the moment, there is an extensively wide gap between these investments, the resources being channeled to AI and the attitude towards its adoption and use. In order to address these challenges, Google’s Africa head of AI looks says it has to be a mutually beneficial relationship. He says, “AI has a lot to offer to Africa and Africa has a lot to offer to AI as well.” The main challenge Cisse notes, is mainly in addressing the real challenges that include poor infrastructure, human resources shortage and a bad attitude that has continued to show AI as a technology that will come to slice the already fewer jobs available.
Precisely, AI startups in Africa have these three main challenges to counter:
The kind of money that is raised for AI startups in Silicon Valley on a single day might take a couple of years in the African setting. South Africa, which has one of the best establish Venture Capital structures in the region made investments worth an estimated $77 million in 2017. In the same period, it is estimated that US venture capital deals were in the range of $84.24 billion.
Such glaring differences in funding simply mean that the growth of African startups will ultimately be slowed.
Talent Sourcing Is At The Backbench.
The growth of AI in Africa is predominantly dependent on the continent’s ability to tap into the immense pool of ideas that continue to emerge.
One observation that may negatively affect the development of AI in Africa is the low number of competent data scientists.Training and siAlthough AI and machine learning have become hot topics at tech, employment and economic forums and workshops, Chinner hasn’t seen a meaningful increase in the number of trained data scientists. He says, “South Africa has enough smart people with the potential to become data scientists, but for some or other reason it hasn’t been a popular career choice.”