• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Artificial Intelligence is here to stay but is Africa ready?

AI manipulation seen boosting cybercrime in 2024

2024 is here, and I pray it will be a better and more prosperous year for us all. Artificial Intelligence (AI) projects and adoptions are sweeping the world like wildfire and are one of the most disruptive technologies to watch out for in 2024 and beyond.

This technology, known as Artificial Intelligence (AI), is simply put, as the imitation of human acumen in machines. This technology is gaining more prominence in many parts of the world and will intensify more in 2024. In my view, and considering the impact AI has had on living and livelihoods, it is believed that AI has enormous potential to transform various sectors in Africa, be it in business, consumer experience, education, agriculture, health, governance, or finance. It has the potential to change the way companies operate fundamentally, it will continue to drive innovation, and if applied reasonably, it has the potential to improve the lives of millions across Africa.

Yet, the implementation of AI in Africa is still in its infant phase, as most of its applications are pilot or experimental. Even though in Africa, financial services, agriculture, and healthcare are all sectors that could utilise AI. AI is currently being implemented sparingly for instance in the financial services sector to facilitate financial inclusion, and customer service improvements. One tendency that AI possesses is the ability to increase unemployment due to its adoption in routine and predictable daily operations.

But the potential of AI in Africa, particularly in solving social and environmental problems such as poverty, hunger, healthcare, education, language technologies, water supply, clean energy forecasting, climate change predictions, and security are unlimited. In fact, Africa could be transformed with the power of AI applications to change how businesses operate, facilitate more innovation, and improve the lives of millions across the continent. This could lead to improved well-being, quality of life, and business resilience, which could be addressed by some AI business solutions. But the big question is, are Africans and African leaders ready?

Yet, the implementation of AI in Africa is still in its infant phase, as most of its applications are pilot or experimental

With artificial intelligence, small businesses can help foster innovation and social entrepreneurship that could help curb some of the agelong challenges in Africa and improve job creation in another realm. With a growing population of over 1.4 billion people and with 70% under the age of 30, the continent is ripe for these AI investments. According to records, the African population is expected to grow by 1.76% by 2050, reaching approximately 2.5 billion from 1.36 billion in 2020. This means that adequate attention must be given to the young and growing population because the young folk on the continent are a crucial resource that presents opportunities for economic growth and competitive, but innovative ideas.

The young people should be the workforce ready to take on the technological revolution and drive AI progress in Africa. Still, they need to be incentivized and prepared for a forefront role in the technological revolution if Africa is proactive. But the current bane to this is the insufficient investment in research and development, the general lack of institutional capacity and huge skill gaps amongst these youths. So, African leaders must show unwavering commitment to the Artificial Intelligence agenda by focusing on research, funding, building capacity and skills, and engaging in long-term partnerships world over.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to impact almost every industry on the continent, and for example, with agriculture and production, AI models could be used to optimise yields and production value chain. In the area of food insecurity, the use of AI applications can help identify or predict crop and animal diseases and forestall disasters. Therefore, agriculture is a strategic sector that needs improvement across Africa, and AI should be a critical part of the solution to achieve sustainability.

In the banking and financial sectors, AI could help automate and predict more customer transactions in the commercial banking and capital market space and so on. Though records show that Africa missed the first, second and third industrial revolutions’ significant participation, the continent should be determined not to miss the fourth and fifth. So Africa cannot sit back and wait. The time to be proactive is now.

In conclusion, due to the paucity of comprehensive AI regulations and policies across Africa, cyber security challenges are central concerns. Therefore, since the existing laws and legislations cannot regulate AI operations adequately, and the regulatory framework to set the rules of engagement is still limited then to protect the social fabric, norms and safety of people and avoid unintended consequences, African governments should think ahead and formulate regulations and legal frameworks to guide the usage of AI. The role of African governments in nurturing a conducive environment for AI technological adoption is key and non-governmental organisations with other stakeholders need to assist as well by considering investments in AI infrastructure. Good luck!

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Dr. Timi Olubiyi, an Entrepreneurship & Business Management expert with a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Babcock University Nigeria. A prolific investment coach, author, seasoned scholar, Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), and Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) registered capital market operator. He can be reached on the Twitter handle @drtimiolubiyi and via email: [email protected], for any questions, reactions, and comments.