If your company has tried to use artificial intelligence (AI) in Nigeria, or any other parts of Africa, you have probably faced challenges like difficulty finding the kind of data you need or accessing powerful computers to save your time and money. In fact, some of you have managed to build your solutions but you find it incredibly difficult to convince local investors that they should be investing in rocket science like artificial intelligence.
For the rest of you who don’t know much about AI already. This is still interesting for you as you get to learn about why using new technologies like AI can help you win your market.
On Friday March 13, 2020, pan-African nonprofit Alliance4ai organized a clinic for startups in Lagos, bringing six global experts of African origin to answer startup questions and provide information on impactful resources.
“AI is the most sort after tool for business across the world today because it helps massively reduce operating costs and dramatically open up avenues for new business opportunities”, said Alexander Tsado, founder of Alliance for AI. “Africans can leverage this tool to create thousands of jobs and create wealth”.
Alex explained that it is not too early for Africans and Nigerians to adopt AI because of fear of lack of basic resources like power or fear of losing jobs through factory automation. He described that there where too few factories in Nigeria to replace and that the potential to create jobs for people with disabilities, from physical to financial, is far more important. He shared that we don’t need to know AI to adopt it, just like we use Google AI and Facebook AI everyday, but that it is about time a sizable group of Nigerians are empowered with power and resources to build local AI solutions that are more accessible to millions of our people.
This clinic was held for Facebook and Cchub’s accelerator program, Fbstart, setup to incubate 15 Nigerian innovators working with deep technologies of the fourth industrial revolution. This cohort has innovators attempting to solve problems from improved school education to curbing pipeline theft and improving road traffic conditions.
Key insights shared by the experts include that
- 80% of the world’s data was generated in the last 2 years, so we as African innovators should ask instead, “how can we generate our own data”. Evaluate using cell phones, IoT sensors or building applications that help you gather data in several months or years before you can finally do more analytical crunching like artificial intelligence.
- Building useful AI models can take weeks or months on regular computers, but days or hours on fast computers. Seek out tutorials on Alliance4ai webpage or YouTube on how to access these powerful computers like GPUs from the cloud, or how to buy them and set them up in your office.
- Several foreign accelerator programs and grants exist to help startups across the entire world excel with AI. African startups are currently uninformed about these opportunities, and should reach out to Alliance4ai to find out more. One specific accelerator is NVIDIA Inception, which offers up to $50,000 of free cloud credit, marketing to millions of eye balls and technical support for promising startups.
Alliance4ai is a pan-African nonprofit founded by Africans who believe strongly that Africa’s innovative voice is important to the world in the era of Artificial Intelligence. They have set up the platform for AI in Africa, where you can go to find all information from inspirational stories to list of schools that teach AI across African cities, to startups that use AI and governments that are interested in improving their AI policy.
They organize programs like AI startup clinic delivered via Accelerators and Hubs, and Learning Chapters that empower students in secondary school and universities to teach themselves about AI and Leadership while completing projects.
They finally serve as a voice for the Africa AI ecosystem at global meetings to share snapshots of what all African countries are doing, and practical projections for the near future. The next big event will be the UN’s AI for Good Summit, where Alliance4ai has partnered with South Africa’s AI Media Group to take Africa’s strongest 10 AI organizations to demonstrate African Innovation.
Check out their platform for more, and stay up to date via their newsletter on how Africans are growing their voice in the global innovative world.