Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are expected to add trillions to global GDP in the next 20 years, putting it on par with the disruptions and opportunities being created by cloud computing and blockchain.

According to the Oxford Insights AI Readiness Index 2020, the United States of America is best positioned to capitalise on these opportunities, with the rest of the top five places going to Western European nations. Africa is, unfortunately, far further down the index, with the best performing countries being Egypt at #56 and South Africa at #59.

However, despite having a relatively small AI industry, several promising African start-ups have emerged which are drawing attention to how AI technology could benefit the continent.

AI Media Group CEO Dr Nick Bradshaw identifies the following top 5 AI technology categories as the ones that will have the biggest roles to play in Africa in the next two years as:

Dr Nick Bradshaw, AI Media Group CEO
  • RPA / process automation / augmentation
  • Conversational AI / interfaces / chat bots / CX / UX
  • IoT / Big Data Analytics & Insights
  • ML / DL point solutions that address a specific business problems
  • Ethics / Privacy & Cloud deployment frameworks for AI powered technologies / MLOps

Interest from buyers is keen, as a 2020 business buyer survey conducted by The AI Media Group reveals:

  • 30% of respondents expect to spend $1m-$10m+ on AI technologies
  • 30% are seeking external help with ethics strategies
  • 62% stated they require more information / training and education on how 4IR technologies can positively impact their business

Bradshaw adds, “While the start-up and enterprise sectors race ahead, African governments must accelerate the development of coherent and strong AI strategies to ensure that their citizens can reap the benefits of AI while protecting themselves from its potentially harmful effects.”

“While the start-up and enterprise sectors race ahead, African governments must accelerate the development of coherent and strong AI strategies to ensure that their citizens can reap the benefits of AI while protecting themselves from its potentially harmful effects.”

He goes on to explain that, in 2019, 42 countries signed up to the OECD principles on AI. This means they all agree to ensure that AI systems are designed in a way that is safe, fair and trustworthy. The following year, 14 governments along with the EU joined together to create the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI). This initiative supports the responsible development and use of AI. “These, and other intergovernmental agreements, highlight the increasing recognition that it is not just enough to develop and implement AI. Governments must ensure that AI is used in a responsible manner,” says Bradshaw.

To find out more about this, and other AI issues, you are invited to attend AI Expo Africa 2021 Online, which will run from 7-9 September 2021 followed by a 30 day On-Demand show. This event is the largest B2B B2G African AI / Robotic Process Automation, and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) trade, innovation and business event in the region.

This year’s event will also feature Africa’s first AI focused, free investment matchmaking service, called The Deal Room.

This year’s event will also feature Africa’s first AI focused, free investment matchmaking service, called The Deal Room. It aims to connect African AI focused start-ups to interested investors and venture capitalists.

Tickets to attend the event are free, so book yours now via aiexpoafrica.com/registration/

There are also speaker, exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities available. To apply as a speaker, go to aiexpoafrica.com/speakers/ To find out more about becoming an exhibitor or sponsor, go to aiexpoafrica.com/sponsor/

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