Why We Launched The Utiva AI School
My thoughts, on my bed with my little notepad!
The horse is prepared for the day of battle but victory is of the Lord. I was meditating on my bed after a long sleep and this same instruction came to me. Isn’t that what the Holy Book says?
By the way, I think the work of an educator is the work of God. Unless you disagree, training others is divine.
But the biggest question on my mind, at least as I meditated, was how do we win as a continent if we play the hide and seek game? We are so far behind on the curve of economic leadership. Industry 1.0 until 3.0! We didn’t win in any of these play. Can we give ourselves another chance? Can this be our chance?
And then I took a looked at the Fourth Industrial Revolution which is being powered by Artificial Intelligence. By the way, if you lost me, The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a smart way to say ‘can we blur the boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. It is all about advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies.
Can Africa lead here? That was my biggest morning mare!
As I consoled myself, I wanted to put some figures on my self-esteem. And I realized that current spending on AI is at about $29.8B! Guess what? This spending is estimated to reach $46.0B by the end of 2020!
But the truth is that this number didn't just hit the 50 billion dollar mark overnight. It’s a rolling wave. Worldwide spending on artificial intelligence and cognitive systems rose up 768% from 2016.
Where is AFRICA in this whole thing? At first, I thought Africa is playing the ‘no-where game’. I guess you also thought same right? Well, I was wrong!
Spending on artificial intelligence (AI) systems in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) has been on the rise of recent. Interestingly, there is a strong indication that the growth trajectory will increase as businesses in the MEA region invest aggressively on AI continues to invest in projects that utilize the capabilities of AI software and platforms. Spending on AI systems in MEA is expected to reach $374.2 million in 2020. The MEA also has come a long way from $261.8 million in 2018 and about $320 million in 2019. This is according to International Data Corporation (IDC).
Are you a black African? I know what you are thinking!
Well, from this MEA figure, South Africa accounts for about 20% of the total spending! While I couldn’t put a clear figure behind how much Nigeria’s spent in the space, there are a few companies out there experimenting and championing the AI game in Nigeria. Startups are also paving a strong wave in the AI spending, especially in the financial sector.
Nigerian mobile-lending platform Carbon uses machine learning to evaluate credit applications, South African fashion retailers rely on algorithms to predict the next season’s top sellers and Kenyan ride-hailing app Little has implemented AI to assess driver performance.
So the biggest question on my mind was how to accelerate the process for the Nigerian ecosystem. I came up with my theory of acceleration:
- Enterprise investment in AI is easy if business leaders understand the value of technology to daily business processes and challenges
- AI must be more than a concept; it must be able to change the bottom line
- It is not enough to ship AI solutions to Africa; we must build technology with our Data and our biases.
The easiest way to achieve these 3 different pieces is to flood the ecosystem wit business leaders that understand the dynamics of AI and are able to plug the use to their daily business challenges. That is the easiest way to advocate for more investment in that space.
And then I got out of bed and jumped on a call to consult my friend and colleague, Opeyemi Akinwoleola who is an industry leader in that space. Let me paraphrase his thoughts: