AI – An Opportunity for Growth in Africa

As the world is somewhat used to digitalization and the vast internet, AI takes its fast development to another level. We used to talk about AI as a totally unfamiliar concept, but now, we see the revolutionary discoveries, the upgrading technology and the overall benefit of it all.

These emerging technologies bring exciting possibilities. They might be a promising lead in the socio-economic changes in the world, which potentially would lead to open access to services like education, healthcare, public services and agriculture.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Although there are many definitions for AI, we will go by the definition of The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which states that “A.I. is a machine-based system that can, for a given set of human defined objectives, make predictions, recommendations, or decisions influencing real or virtual environments. AI systems are designed to operate with varying levels of autonomy”.

What AI consists of, is algorithmically controlled automated decision-making (ADM) systems, frameworks that comprise decision-making models, and then algorithms that translate those models into computable code. Simply put, it is a smart machine that can demonstrate human-like characteristics, like learning, problem-solving, and memorizing, just on a bigger scale.

There are Artificial Intelligence Courses that you can take online, and learn more about the phenomenon. You can incorporate the knowledge into your business, education and healthcare.

How can AI help in Africa’s development?

In Africa, AI can help with development with some of the most prevalent problems. It can assist with improving education, upgrading healthcare in order to eliminate severe diseases, reducing poverty and bringing advanced solutions to the great food demand on the continent.

According to recent studies on the long-term economic influence of AI, it has the potential to double a country’s GDP growth rate in the span of 15 years. Africa must act properly in order to benefit from even a small portion of this growth, especially in sectors where it is mostly needed: education, finance, public service, healthcare and agriculture.

  • Healthcare structures in Africa are in need of serious fundamental changes. Accessibility is one of the main issues in the healthcare systems here, especially in the rural areas. With that, comes the lack of awareness of health issues amongst the population. Hospitals struggle with shortages of qualified staff or even supplies. What AI can do here, is identify patterns in the spread of the diseases, design more effective medical response and policies and with that, ease the work of personnel by providing them with more time to attend to a bigger number of patients. AI can speed up the patient’s processing, diagnose and post care routine. By analyzing the patterns in patients, AI can be of great assistance by making faster and more precise diagnosis. 
  • Education in Africa is one area that desperately needs help from a more structured system. AI can help in this area by automatizing basic activities, giving teachers more time to interact with the children. It can provide additional help with automated tutoring classes, individual classes, and by simply detecting patterns in more advanced children or ones that are on the verge of dropping out.
  • Agriculture is critical for the development of Africa. It accounts for 32% of the GDP. Demands for food are going up by huge numbers, and it is projected that the African food markets will make up to 1 trillion US Dollars by 2050. However, there are numerous limitations in this area, such as: decrease in the soil fertility, increased vulnerability caused by climate changes, and the increasing dependency on artificial fertilizers. There are many new technologies that can help with these problems. AI analytics can provide useful information regarding the health of the crop or various diseases, drones can be used for planting and fertilizing by greater speed than before, and many more. There are some AI agricultural startups that have started their work in Africa, like DroneClouds and MySmartFarm.

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