10 Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Revolutionizing African Industries

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
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The adoption of artificial intelligence technology has revolutionized African industries, boosting agricultural production, helping with personal identification and providing break-throughs in healthcare.

Artificial intelligence is alive and well across sectors, ensuring that AI and machine learning tech is applied in many different ways to make industries more effective and efficient.

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Global tech giant Google has been focused on deriving value from AI for some time, and their investment in researching the technology is evidence of how important they believe it to be, having spent $30 billion on artificial intelligence research in 2016, according to Forbes.

Here are 10 ways artificial intelligence is revolutionizing industries across Africa.

Agriculture

Agriculture is an incredibly exciting sector with regards to artificial intelligence, as the opportunities to transform this traditional industry are many. South African drone startup Aerobotics, for example, uses drone technology and artificial intelligence to assist farmers with optimization of yields and cost-reduction through aerial data. Kenyan firm UjuziKilimo makes use of AI and big data to provide useful information regarding farming trends and productivity based on the accurate data that is generated through soil analysis.

Education

Education is another industry that is being revolutionized by AI, with traditional methods of educating students and getting information to the learner getting a tech overhaul. Kenyan edutech startup M-Shule is a platform that makes use of artificial intelligence and text messaging to deliver personalised, accessible education to primary school students across Africa. In South Africa, edutech company I-Innovate has partnered with U.S. developers Curiosity Machine to teach learners about artificial intelligence through the AI Family Challenge, which allows learners and their families to explore AI technologies such as machine learning, speech recognition, prediction models, autonomous vehicles and neural networks, according to ITNewsAfrica.

Conservation

Africa is home to an abundance of wildlife and ocean habitats that need to be protected so that future generations will have food security and be able to enjoy nature’s beauty. Artificial intelligence, and drone technology in particular, has enabled improved conservation. Moroccan artificial intelligence-based drone technology firm Atlan Space uses drones to sustain ocean systems. The tech can be used to support conservation efforts, such as monitoring deforestation operations, helping to protect large forests from being wiped out thanks to constant monitoring and feedback to the necessary authorities, or anti-poaching activities, equipping drones with thermal imaging cameras to see animals and poachers in the bush at night, alerting authorities to react, according to USC.

Recruitment

AI is now making it easier to find the best possible candidates for a particular job, and helping graduates to find ideal job opportunities. South Africa’s Leaply is an artificial intelligence-enabled software-as-a-service recruitment platform used by businesses to source, screen and select the best graduates efficiently and cost-effectively, enabling companies to find the perfect fit for their available positions. Leaply has expanded successfully into 15 African countries through its corporate partners and is now focused on Europe as its next intended market, according to the site.

Healthcare

Artificial intelligence can be used to a doctor’s advantage when treating patients or trying to diagnose issues. An example of this is Nigerian artificial intelligence health startup Ubenwa Intelligence Solutions, which has developed a machine learning system that can analyze the amplitude and frequency patterns of a baby’s cry to provide an immediate diagnosis of birth asphyxia, according to AllAfrica. A major cause of death in new-born babies worldwide, this method could be revolutionary in early diagnosis. Another example is e-health startup GiftedMom, a medical support platform that develops last-mile mobile health solutions geared at increasing maternal engagement in emerging markets through an artificial intelligence-based remote medical platform.

artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is transforming multiple sectors in Africa. Photo by Hitesh Choudhary on Unsplash

Mining

Mining can benefit from AI technology in terms of profitability and safety. Artificial intelligence means that better and more reliable data can be used to give mining companies greater insights into their businesses, according to SRK. The application of the tech in robotics can make for a safer working environment for miners, with purpose-built robots that are controlled remotely and have AI-powered predictive capabilities able to do more dangerous tasks that need to be completed underground, safeguarding human lives.

Communication

Communication is another field in which artificial intelligence has a role to play. LangBot, an artificial intelligence language teaching chatbot being developed in Ethiopia, is a gamified language teaching messenger chatbot, which is currently in the beta testing stage of its development. The innovation uses artificial intelligence to assist individuals to overcome the language barrier that may exist between people, according to Seedstars. This could revolutionize communication, allowing people to understand each other and communicate with ease.

Logistics

Logistics can be a challenge on the African continent, but AI tech is making it possible to modernize businesses that are delivering on Africa’s logistics requirements. Kenyan AI-powered logistics platform Sote is streamlining logistics solutions across the continent, offering African businesses a platform that allows them to scale their operations in efficient ways.

Security and Identification

Artificial intelligence has interesting applications within security and personal identification. An example of how Africa is embracing tech in this industry is Ghanaian fintech startup Inclusive Financial Technologies, which was recently chosen among a group of 10 tech startups to take part in Google‘s machine learning acceleration program. The Accra-based identity verification firm has developed a single identity verification programming interface that financial service providers use to secure regulatory compliance, according to Ventureburn.

Emergency Services

A South African app called CrashDetech is using artificial intelligence to save lives in emergency situations. The app uses smart drive-detection technology to auto-detect serious car crashes and alerts the CrashDetech emergency contact center of the phone’s location, allowing it to dispatch the nearest emergency medical services with the person’s specific medical information, potentially saving lives, according to Techcentral.