With our Alliance4ai founder series, we interview inspiring African founders using AI and disruptive technologies to expand their societies’ realm of possibilities. We are quickly finding that readers are seeing examples of people like them succeeding at a top field like AI and better visualizing how they can make it too.
In this episode, we had the honor of speaking to Ali Bouhouch, an accomplished technology executive with over 20 years of success in leading consulting, software, and data engineering teams. He is the board chairman of a startup in Morocco called The Good data factory. He is a big AI advocate and entrepreneur.
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“Born in 1966 in Rabat Morocco, all I knew about America was from black and white TV, I never dreamt I’d live there,” said Ali. “I’d later find my way there with no knowledge of English, my first plane flight ever, struggled immensely in America, but those early challenges forged my spirit of resilience that I use to drive my AI startup today.”
He shared that a significant factor affording Africans a greater chance at extracting value from this industrial revolution is that working on AI does not require local physical availability of computing power to build a world-class solution. He provides proof on what his employees at the Good Data Factory have built right from Morocco, at reasonable costs.
Here’s the rest of our interview with Ali Bouhouch.
Why should Africans be excited about AI?
Artificial Intelligence is the next revolution, not just in terms of technology but also in how people process information and how people use the information to create value, which is the economic value and affects social change. For example, one important thing the world is worried about is Food security. Specifically, in Africa, this is a massive concern because we are still using traditional farming. Every farmer can only produce enough food for their family, maybe their extended family, and perhaps some access they can sell in the market. However, we should be thinking beyond subsistence farming to high automation levels that enable them to scale and increase productivity, bearing in mind our environment and ways that use sustainable sources of energy. This is where AI is now very crucial. It helps analyze the massive data you have about your country, your society, the historical information you have about what have been the production yields of the land, what has been the patterns of let’s say rain and droughts.
What is The Good Data Factory doing currently?
The Good Data Factory is a startup based in Morocco that works with fresh university graduates from Moroccan universities with useful mathematics and statistical sciences to train them in different programming languages, machine learning techniques, and frameworks. We then position them to take on formidable projects from important companies across the world.
The Good data factory started with four people in 2017 and grew to 22 data scientists and engineers currently delivering AI projects for US-based companies.
What are the top 3 things to keep in mind to start an AI company in morocco (Rather general advice)
- Passionate people: refers to people who are all about the cause and stay intact no matter how hard it gets
- A sound education system will help make people critical thinkers and people who ask the right questions and think differently. “Even today, we are using AI and Machine Learning frameworks that have been created by other people. I always challenge my team to create something for Africans and contribute to the open-source community.
- Finance: I like what countries like India and Bangladesh are doing in regards to microloans. We need to start working together to put in the finances where we need it most.
Where do you see yourself and the company in the next five years?
We aspire to start making partnerships with Universities to work on their curriculum to get the proper education they need in this field at their first school stages. We believe that some fundamental mathematics and statistics courses should take to set a good foundation. Additionally, we want to collaborate with different entities in Morocco to scale to other African countries to create more ecosystems like this for Africans. We aim to make things easy for people who are looking into establishing startups. Last but not least, we are starting to think about creating a collaborative digital marketplace. It is essential to have a start-up environment where people could create something and get recognition and exchange for services or money.
Currently, The Good Data Factory is hiring interns. If you are passionate about AI and would like to apply for this position, reach out to us @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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