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Artificial intelligence

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE as the name sounds is the branch of computer science that puts more emphasis on the development of intelligent machines.

By this it means thinking and working like humans.

I would say Artificial Intelligence is  like the new electricity. Why do I say so, about a decade ago we never had electricity access in Africa, but with the rise of electricity many activities sprung up and got to be transformed. For example agriculture got to be transformed through the rise of  refrigeration, communication through telegraph,  manufacturing was transformed through the electric motors, even health care was transformed as well.

These are just a few examples of the transformations that came as the result of  the rise of electricity. And today you can not imagine how difficult it would be to run these industries without electricity.

This is the same thing that is happening currently with Artificial Intelligence. It is transforming and revolutionising a lot of things, seeing from the perspective of industries, many have employed the use of Artificial Intelligence into their productions.

Africa has always been mislaid when it comes to technological development, but at the moment with the advancement of Artificial Intelligence, Africa is not left out. Since 2016 alot of AI companies have been springing up in the continent and there are various areas in which this technology is being applied.

AI in Agriculture

With the famous quote “Agriculture is the back-bone of Africa, ” AI is being incorporated into the agricultural sector. Many technologies are developing to autonomously operate in the sector. Cognitive computing is set to become the most disruptive technology in agriculture services as it can understand, learn and respond to different situations based on learning to increase efficiency. A huge amount of data concerning agricultural products are being collected daily, and so as we know that AI is built based on data this then makes it easier to develop the technology due to the availability of data. The sector is using AI in disease and pest  detection, crop readiness identification, field management and many others; all these help  in resource optimisation. There are several startups in the agricultural sector, one of them is Kenya’s Apollo Agriculture which has raised $1.6M in funding to develop a platform for financing Kenya’s small scale  farmers.

AI in marketing

In the commercial sector, AI is covering the marketing sectors as well, this is to say that with AI development,  e-commerce is being automated. Many startups have been set up in the continent. ‘GOTBOT’ is one of the startups in South Africa which offers a chatbox through messenger, facebook, twitter, skype, here the startup’s AI algorithms help predict customer behaviour and can suggest answers to customer questions in real time. 

One of the Nigerian startup that kicked up is the ‘TUOCHABL’ pictures, this works in away an individual is in position to recognise the product (the image of the product) someone is wearing in terms of clothes, watches etc, it basically gives the details of that particular product and where you can purchase(obtain) it from by just tapping on the image(picture) of the product from your screen.

AI in the Medical sector

Globally, the most critical issue in healthcare is providing overarching and effective treatment options that improve standards of living and with Africa you find out that it is really lagging. The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a five-year strategic plan for reaching public-health targets, as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and this plan  covers every continent in the world. One of the things that they have included is improvement of the efficiency of the health care systems using the emerging powerful technology, artificial Intelligence (AI).

Africa is already deploying the use of AI in medical sectors, in the areas of diagnostics and personalised medicine. Various initiatives are already employing basic technology applications to provide essential healthcare services, for example, to expectant and nursing mothers. These are particularly relevant in the context of African healthcare, where the technology currently being used can easily incorporate AI-based solutions. For example, Safermom is a Nigerian start-up that empowers pregnant women and new mothers to make informed decisions by using low-cost mobile technologies (two-way SMS, voice calling, and mobile apps) to transmit vital health information.

There are also other areas like improving direct patient care, reducing administrative tasks, which we will not go into so much detail.

We believe that with time and with the drastic improvement in AI technologies, the World, just like the electricity that we mentioned earlier, will not be in a position to function without Artificial Intelligence.

Guest Written By Andrew Ochan

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