THE final day of GITEX Africa 2023 in Morocco witnessed engaging discussions on the rise of AI and its revolutionary impact on African business, society, and culture. Experts from around the world convened to debate and advance the transformative potential of this new technology, which has become a focal point of worldwide discussions.
While concerns about potential disaster scenarios and the extinction of humanity have been expressed by figures such as the heads of OpenAI and Google Deepmind, others in the field believe that fears surrounding AI are exaggerated.
One thing is certain: AI is poised to be the next major global technology shift, with the potential to transform the way businesses operate and societies function, particularly in Africa. Mustapha Zaouni, Chairman of AI in Africa, emphasised that the continent is now exploring AI as a means to address pressing issues such as poverty, unemployment, and inequality.
‘While Africa faces unique challenges, such as disparity in internet access, it is steadily embracing AI,’ said Zaouni, who participated as a panellist at the GITEX Africa AI Summit on Responsible Generative AI. ‘Readiness varies across countries, and there is 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, Global Head of Nvidia AI Technology Centre in Singapore, another speaker at the event, expressed that with the right investments and policies, AI can help Africa 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 See, whose American-headquartered Nvidia specialises in AI chips and briefly surpassed a market value of $1 trillion this week. ‘This growth is driven by the continent’s young population, as well as its investments in startups and innovation. The growth of AI is creating new jobs in Africa as companies seek experts to develop and implement AI-powered products and services.’
Elevating African talent to the forefront of a new global workforce
See highlighted that Africa is still in the early stages of AI adoption, but there is a growing interest in the technology across the continent. ‘Several African countries have developed national AI strategies, and there are a number of startups and research institutions working on AI-related projects,’ he noted.
Dr. Adel Alsharji, COO of Presight, a UAE-based AI-powered big data analytics company, delivered the keynote address on the Societal Impact of Artificial Intelligence at the GITEX Africa AI Summit. He said Africa is the second-fastest growing region globally in terms of 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 its people,’ said Dr. Alsharji, adding that demand for AI-related jobs in Africa is expected to double over the next three years.
Zaouini, whose AI in Africa is a non-profit organisation aimed at empowering African youth for an inclusive AI future, concluded that AI should be seen as a tool in Africa to leapfrog traditional stages of development while propelling African talent to the forefront of a new global workforce.
‘The impact of AI on African society is immense, revolutionizing the way we work and live,’ Zaouini said. ‘After the internet, the second revolution was probably the social dilemma, but AI represents an even bigger revolution than all of them,’ he added.
AI-powered health-tech solution transforms African blood donations
GITEX Africa, which concluded today (June 2) in Marrakech, brought together thousands of attendees from 120 countries over its three-day run. Participants aimed to network and establish meaningful business connections with the 900 exhibiting companies and startups across 10 halls and 45,000 sqm of exhibition space.
The exhibition floor also showcased the extensive multisectoral impact of AI, with many exhibitors demonstrating how the AI boom is driving innovation across industries such as education, agriculture, transport, retail, energy, and logistics.
Nigerian startup BetaLife exemplified this movement in the healthcare sector. The award-winning cloud-based AI-powered platform connects hospitals and blood banks using advanced algorithms, ensuring the efficient flow of life-saving blood products to patients in need.
Mubarak Ayanniyi, the 21-year-old founder and CEO, highlighted the greatest advantage of BetaLife, which lies in its ability to analyse vast amounts of data through an AI-powered algorithm. This algorithm accurately predicts when, where, and in what quantities blood donations are required, allowing for efficient distribution of blood products, reducing waste, and ensuring timely treatment for those in need.
‘BetaLife has revolutionised the management of blood donations in Africa,’ Ayanniyi explained. ‘Instead of relying on manual processes, hospitals and blood banks now use BetaLife to predict when and where blood donations are most needed. This has led to a more efficient distribution of blood products, reducing waste and ensuring that those who need it most receive the life-saving treatment they require.’
GITEX Africa was held under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and hosted by the Digital Development Agency (ADD) under the authority of the Moroccan Ministry of Digital Transition and Administration Reform.
The event was organised by KAOUN International, the overseas events organizing company of Dubai World Trade Centre, which also organises GITEX Global in Dubai, UAE. GITEX Global is the world’s largest tech and startup show and is rated by tech executives as the best global tech event.