“Success in creating effective AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know. So, we cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI, or ignored by it and side-lined, or conceivably destroyed by it.” – Physicist, Stephen Hawking
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a broad field of computer science. It focuses on the creation of intelligent technologies that can do activities that would normally need human intelligence. Such activities include problem-solving, analysis, predictions, forecasting, learning, diagnosis, etc.
AI is expected to add $15.7 trillion to global GDP by 2030, with $6.6 trillion coming from enhanced productivity and $9.1 trillion from consumer effects.
Africa is presented with a unique opportunity to leverage new digital technologies to achieve large-scale transformation and competitiveness. Furthermore, AI has the potential to assist in the solving of the continent’s economic problems.
Africa cannot and must not be ignored.
Digital Technology and Agriculture in Africa
In Africa, Agriculture has a significant socio-economic impact. Smallholder farmers account for more than 60% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agriculture accounts for roughly 23% of the continent’s GDP. Despite this, Africa’s agricultural potential remains largely untapped.
Undisputedly, Africa’s agricultural challenges present a huge opportunity for disruptive innovation employing new technology such as artificial intelligence (AI).
Several African start-ups are already striving to bridge some of the food production value chain gaps, but more work remains to be done.
Is Artificial Intelligence Transforming the Financial Services Industry in Africa?
The financial services sector is characterized by steep competition, particularly, the need to provide best-in-class services to their customers. With the emergence of FinTech companies, the competition has become fierce.
Financial institutions use cutting-edge tools to harvest the huge amounts of data they have. Technology has become a differentiator in this industry. As a result, banks are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to improve existing service offerings, introduce new ones, and provide customers with a more personalized experience.
Several aspects of financial services have benefited from this revolutionary technology, including – Chatbots, fraud detection and prevention, and predictive analytics. Other notable areas are credit risk management and customer relationship management. Specifically, banks now use AI to analyze customer behavioral patterns and automatically perform customer segmentation, allowing for targeted marketing and improved customer experience and interaction.
This refers to a computer system’s systematic and recurring defects that cause discriminatory outcomes, such as preferring one arbitrary group of users over others. From inadvertent privacy invasions to the reinforcing of racial, gender, sexuality, and ethnic biases, this bias can have a wide range of effects.
Embracing Disruptive Change
Adopting new technologies is straightforward. The most difficult components of digital transformation are internal procedures, business models, money, people, partners, systems, and culture.
Markedly, the application of artificial intelligence in Africa has the potential to propel the region to the fore of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
However, several important steps must be made before Africa can succeed in this digital transformation. Undoubtedly, the region must develop a comprehensive continental AI policy framework.
For corporations going through digital transformation, their leadership must examine the entire organization and develop a change management strategy to be effective. AI seeks to enhance the efficiency of man and not to replace man.
A study conducted by PwC showed that 70% of business executives believe that AI can enable people to focus on more meaningful work. A Harvard Business Review survey showed that 36% of executives think one of the top benefits of AI is to free up workers to be more creative. 35% cited AI’s ability to help workers make better decisions.
The time to embrace disruptive technological change is NOW.