African countries are embracing Artificial Intelligence

Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer, popular as ChatGPT and Google’s artificial intelligence chatbot, Bard, are some AI technology receiving attention for their detailed responses and articulate answers across many spheres. 

While developed countries have integrated the two technologies, Africa has not been left behind in the race –   a number of African countries have already invested in AI and are working to intergrate it in different sectors. 

According to an AI readiness index released by Oxford Insights, there are 10 African countries in the “top 100 countries” which are ready to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) in an effort to deliver public services.

Mauritius tops the list coming in at position 57, followed by Egypt (65), South Africa (68), Tunisia (70) and Morocco (87). Mauritius, with a score of 53.38, leads the pack, and is the only country to have published a strategy on the latest technology in Sub-Saharan Africa. The country aims to make AI the cornerstone of its next development model. 

South Africa follows Mauritius closely with a score of 47.74, which is because of its investment in data and infrastructure – it remains the only country in the region with access to both a top 5 cloud provider and commercially available 5G infrastructure.

It is interesting that Kenya falls in position 90 in the world, third in the Sub-Saharan region, and sixth in Africa. The country has a score of 40.36 which is below the global average score of 44.61. With the index measuring the score in accordance to three pillars; governance, technology sector and data, and infrastructure, the eastern Africa country managed a score of 51.95 in data and infrastructure. 

In terms of the technology sector pillar, which examines the availability of requisite skills to enable AI adoption, Kenya scored 28.76, which is below the global average of 35.17, meaning it has made little investment towards the technology compared to African countries like Mauritius, Mauritius, and Tunisia.

According to Microsoft’s “Artificial Intelligence in the Middle East and Africa Outlook” report, while South Africa and Nigeria have invested Sh165.8 billion and Sh60.3 billion in the AI field in the last decade, Kenya has only managed an estimated Sh13 billion. 

Kenya has the potential to harness the full benefits of AI, however, there is need for investment not only in infrastructure, but also training to ensure that people have the right skills to efficiently utilize the technology. 

The time for African governments, investors, and NGOs to educate and train for complex tasks, reform and amend laws is now as AI is no longer coming in the future; it is already here with us.

A global technocrat, Bitange Ndemo says AI might not only be the solution to a number of African challenges, but the medicine the continent needs to root out problems and inconsistencies especially in the education sector. 

“The fact that African languages were suppressed in favour of European languages as a strategy to separate thought and speech, Africa now has the opportunity to begin the process of decolonizing education,” says Mr Ndemo.    

Sign Up