Africa has a unique opportunity to develop its competitiveness through artificial intelligence (AI). From agriculture and remote health to translating the 2,000-odd languages spoken across the continent, AI can help tackle the economic problems that Africa faces.
Africa faces several known challenges in developing AI such as a dearth of investment, a paucity of specialized talent, and a lack of access to the latest global research. These hurdles are being whittled down, albeit slowly, thanks to African ingenuity and to investments by multinational companies such as IBM Research, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, which have all opened AI labs in Africa. Innovative forms of trans-continental collaboration such as Deep Learning Indaba (a Zulu word for gathering), which is fostering a community of AI researchers in Africa, and Zindi, a platform that challenges African data scientists to solve the continent’s toughest challenges, are gaining ground, buoyed by the recent “homecoming“ of several globally-trained African experts in AI.