Sahara Ventures
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The Machine, The People, and The Facts — The Africa AI Story.

The Machine, The People, and The Facts — The Africa AI Story.

We are soon to publish our second report on AI in Tanzania. We did publish one last year — I was in Geneva for the AI for Good Conference giving free copies of the report to different people showcasing what is happening in my country on future tech adoption — some faces looked shocked to hear there is anything happening AI-related in this part of the world.

While the algorithms of YouTube and Netflix are feeding our minds with leisure content for money — Our academic institutions are struggling to prepare us for what is coming. The demon, Cambridge Analytica, they play with the minds of our people to elect political leaders we haven’t selected and pushing us to swallow values which are not of our own. If technology can mess up with the election of the mighty USA who is safe. Are we witnessing the last days of political dominance over technology? Who will win the AI war— Beijing or Wall Street? At the cost of who?

Creating digital health assistants or gambling apps, AI can do both for Africa. Addictive platforms can be created pushing people to borrow and gamble more hence accelerating the poverty circle — or power digital health tools that address the doctor-patient ratio in the continent. Very unfortunate, there is more data and Capital for commercially viable products compared to impact-centered solutions. We might as well become gamblers because it is easy to push the ads on our Social Media Pages and the sporting websites than implementing AI-powered health solutions in our health sector.

Digital Colonialism is real, digital colonialists can push any agenda to any country including the USA. My worry is what if a wrong agenda is being pushed to a country whose median age is 17.9 years old with most of her youths unemployed and hopeless? — while technology can do so many good things, my biggest fear is not the robots — my biggest fear is the tools that we use on daily basis. My biggest fear is getting “Hooked”. What if we will need social media rehabs for addicted users a few years from now? It is easy to cut the cocaine supply chain when if you protect your borders. How do you contain digital cocaine? Who will save us from something we all don’t understand? The government or the people.

When we don’t have jobs but AI can draw pictures and produce music? Should we be excited or worried? Like any greatest discovery, it can burn you or give you food. — Should we be worried that the richest get richer and the poorer get dumber? Living the life of notifications and constant email updates while those who created the systems read books and travel the world. — I know the world is unfair that’s why a junk food owner eats healthy food but who is safe? If technology can put wrong people in power, make our youths degenerate gamblers and social media addicts — -who is winning? When fewer jobs are being created than those which are taken away who is winning? — I’m afraid we might get burned more than getting food if we are not careful. When you have a huge population of unskilled labor and you are automating everything without skills transformation what are you creating? Can we equip African youths with future skills as fast as we adopt these technologies?

I’m optimistic, in a continent of 1.2 Billion people with an age average of 19.7 possibly a Zebracorn or Gazelle might emerge capitalizing on AI to create both social and commercial impact but when and how? and who will fund it — when those who own the data they don’t own solutions, Africa’s Data Conundrum, the solutions will always favor Wall Street and not the country. The sooner we discuss this the better otherwise, we will be spectators and consumers of destructive solutions rather than impactful ones. — the do-no-evil spirit in me pushes me to believe we can do better.

Can there be an African AI? Yes, I know we have Sofia the robot. That’s a good step, but as I said I’m not afraid of the robots. I’m afraid of the “New Jim Code” and “The Digital Colonialists”. We don’t know what the unicorns are cooking in the kitchen but one thing for sure we know who controls them, a small group of people in Silicon Valley being monitored by an even smaller group of people in Wall Street. — Between Us and Wall Street you already know whom will they will choose. The power is centralized and we don’t have a seat on the table either in Wall Street or Beijing. — Maybe Addis Ababa will save us like in the good old days. The future is both exciting and scary.



Our mission is to build a stable innovation, technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Africa through consultancy and investment

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Jumanne Rajabu Mtambalike

Entrepreneur, TZ Patriot, Loves Tech, Founder, Project Management Consulting firm, Co-Founded and Sahara Accelerator.