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Digital Salon

Global Perspectives on: AI

How to Leverage Homegrown AI Solutions for Economic Growth in Africa

Global Perspectives on: AI

March 13, 2024

online / Zoom

Africa is experiencing an AI boom, with 2,400+ organizations transforming sectors like healthcare and agriculture. But challenges persist. External tech players could take advantage of local data, sidelining Africa’s AI ambitions. We will explore the transformative potential of digital sovereignty for the African continent, engaging in dialogue with AI experts.

Key Takeaways

  • Enabling Environment

    The AI ecosystem on the African continent offers many opportunities if given the right environment through infrastructure and policies. To build a strong foundation, the current infrastructure gaps in accessibility, connectivity and affordability need to be bridged first. Data is the raw material of AI - therefore, still existing data gaps on the continent need to be addressed. Currently, most solutions in health, education, and agriculture are based on data from other parts of the world. Additionally, Africa only contributes by 11% of the current Large Language Models (LLM), which does not reflect the rich linguistic landscape on the continent. To ensure that innovation can thrive in a secure framework for developers and users, local governments need to establish adequate policies. This will reduce the perceived risk for the private sector when investing in AI projects on ground.

  • Home Grown Solutions

    Meeting local needs, requires local data sets. Therefore, the continent is striving to gain more sovereignty in terms of data sets and to foster the development of home grown solutions. Unified, pan-African policies provide planning security for investors as well as an adequate overview of the continent's potential, so that less opportunities will be missed out on and investments may be facilitated. Africa can learn from what is already out there and set new standards: Green, ethical and human-centered AI are only three examples of promising new paths for AI on the continent. A more responsible AI is set up to solve human problems in education, finance, agriculture, and climate change, as opposed to commercial ones.

  • Unique Opportunities

    The open canvas that Africa is given in AI goes hand in hand with other unique opportunities the continent has to offer in the long game, one of which is human capital and scale. In the next 5 years, Africa will represent the majority of the world’s work force. Simultaneously, the African diaspora is becoming more influential and is likely to bring this influence back to the continent. Therefore, investing in talent is most important to prepare for the shift in AI. Going forward, a strong talent pool in data science, machine learning and AI development is needed. In order to enable this critical mass, infrastructure needs to be affordable, accessible and relevant to enable African solutions for global issues.

Contact Persons

Rhoda Berger, r.berger@globalperspectives.org

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The digital dialogue series "Global Perspectives on" is featuring European and African decision-makers in discussion about the relevant topics and developments for both continents.

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To this end, GPI regularly brings together decision- makers from politics, business, civil society, academia and media to discuss new approaches, provide new impulses and raise awareness on the common opportunities and challenges the two neighboring continents are facing.

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