The rise of Artificial intelligence (AI) and its revolutionary impact on African business, society, and culture led discussions during the GITEX Africa Digital Summit in Marrakech, Morocco, as experts from across the globe gathered to debate and advance the transformational new tech that’s now the focal point of worldwide debate.
While dozens, including the heads of OpenAI and Google Deepmind, have backed statements warning about potential disaster scenarios around AI — including the extinction of humanity — others in the field have said AI fears are overblown.
One thing is certain: AI is on track to be the next big global technology shift, while in Africa, it has the ability to transform the way businesses are run and societies function. More importantly, according to Mustapha Zaouni, the Chairman of AI in Africa, the continent is now exploring AI to solve pressing issues including poverty, unemployment, and inequality.
“While Africa has unique challenges, such as disparity in internet access, it’s steadily embracing AI,” said Mr. Zaouni, a panelist at the GITEX Africa AI Summit on the topic of Responsible Generative AI.
“Readiness varies across countries, and there’s a need to invest in infrastructure, education, and policy-making to fully harness AI. Ensuring equitable access to technology and bridging the digital divide are crucial steps to prepare for AI’s impact in Africa.”
Simon See, the Global Head of Nvidia AI Technology Centre in Singapore, said with the right investments and policies, AI can help Africa to achieve its development goals and improve the lives of its people.
“In Africa, the demand for AI skills is expected to grow by 36 percent between 2020 and 2025,” said Mr. See, whose American-headquartered Nvidia makes specialist AI chips, with a market value that briefly surpassed USD$1 trillion this week.
This growth is driven by Africa’s young population, as well as its investments in startups and innovation. The growth of AI is creating new jobs in Africa, as companies look to hire experts to help them develop and implement AI-powered products and services, said See.
Elevating African talent to the forefront of a new global workforce
Mr. See said Africa is still in the early stages of AI adoption. Still, there’s a growing interest in the technology across the continent: “Several African countries have developed national AI strategies, and they’re a number of startups and research institutions working on AI-related projects,” he remarked.
Dr. Adel Alsharji, the COO of Presight, a UAE-based AI-powered big data analytics company, while delivering his keynote address on the Societal Impact of Artificial Intelligence said Africa is the second-fastest growing region globally in AI adoption.
“Africa’s AI journey is gaining momentum, and this progress highlights the continent’s readiness to explore and harness the potential of AI for driving economic growth and addressing local challenges, ultimately benefiting the greater good of its people,” said Dr. Alsharji — adding that demand for AI-related jobs will increase two-fold over the next three years.
A study by McKinsey Global Institute predicts that AI could add USD$13 trillion to the global economy by 2030, while the number of AI-related jobs in Africa alone is expected to grow by 200 percent by 2025.
Mr. Mustapha Zaouni, whose AI in Africa is a non-profit organization aimed at empowering African youth for an inclusive AI future, concluded that in Africa, AI should be seen as a tool to leapfrog traditional stages of development while elevating African talent to the forefront of a new global workforce.
“The African societal impact of AI is immense, as it revolutionizes the way we work and live,” said Zaouini. “After the internet, the second revolution was probably the social dilemma, but AI is an even bigger revolution than all of them.”
AI and its far-reaching multisectoral impact were evident on the exhibition floor, where many exhibitors showcased how the AI boom is turbocharging waves of innovation across industries, from education and agriculture, to transport, retail, energy, or logistics.
BetaLife, an award-winning Nigerian startup epitomized this movement in the healthcare sector. The cloud-based AI-powered platform connects hospitals and blood banks using advanced algorithms, ensuring the efficient flow of lifesaving blood products to patients in need.
Mubarak Ayanniyi, the founder and CEO of BetaLife, said the most significant advantage of Betalife is its ability to analyze copious data via an AI-powered algorithm that accurately predicts when, where, and in what amounts blood donations are required, thereby directing resources and allocating donations when needed, ultimately saving countless lives.
“BetaLife has revolutionized the way that blood donations are managed in Africa,” said Ayanniyi. “Instead of relying on manual processes, hospitals, and blood banks are now using BetaLife to predict when and where blood donations are needed most. This has led to more efficient distribution of blood products, reducing waste and ensuring that those who need it most receive the lifesaving treatment they require.”
GITEX Africa Digital Summit which ended on June 2 was held in Marrakech, Morocco under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, and hosted by the Digital Development Agency, under the authority of the Moroccan Ministry of Digital Transition and Administration Reform.