Microsoft advances Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Africa

Digital advancements are radically transforming industries around the world – with Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming an increasingly vital competitive resource for businesses, worldwide.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), modern technologies like AI will contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. This makes it the biggest commercial opportunity in today’s ever knowledge intensive societies.

Research and advisory company Gartner, projects that AI is also expected to create 2.3 million jobs by 2020.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Africa

“The appetite for these technologies exists in Africa,” says Ryno Rijnsburger, Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft 4Afrika.

“More and more companies – including several of the local partners we work with – are starting to experiment with and enact their strategies towards this. As AI opens new business and employment opportunities, now is a crucial time to equip Africas young people with the skills that will enable access to higher paying jobs, in faster growing fields, added Rijnsburger.

Microsoft, through its 4Afrika initiative, is throwing its global weight behind developing data and AI capabilities in Africa, through a deep and prolonged investment into skills and the youth – via initiatives such as internships, training, events and strategic partnerships

“With the pace of change driven by AI, there is an increasing need for life-long learning, on-the-job training, apprenticeships and other programmes that deliver training in a more nimble manner,” adds Rijnsburger.

Microsoft data training and AI machine learning and Cloud technologies

Microsoft recently sponsored the International Python Conference (PyCon), which took place in Kenya. The event was utilised to provided training around data and AI, machine learning and Microsoft Cloud technologies.

PyCon Kenya is the Kenyan chapter of the International Python Conference that brings together businesses, ‘techies’, start-ups and students with an interest in the Python programming language – a key language for the data utilised in AI frontiers.

The tech giant also participated in the recently held Data Science Nigeria’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Bootcamp and the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) Innovation Day – events that aimed at building the capacity of local developers in using AI to drive financial inclusion.

Microsoft Apprenticeship Factory in Africa

In partnership with BIH, Microsoft 4Afrika launched its 17th AppFactory (Apprenticeship Factory) in Africa.

Two of these AppFactories are currently running in Kenya, in collaboration with local partners USIU-Africa and Mawingu Networks.

At the factories, young ICT graduates are developing skills in secure coding, machine learning, bot framework and data analytics – empowering them to innovate in the fields of healthcare, finance, education, transportation and more.

“We are working to empower individuals across all demographics, with the high-demand skills they need to succeed in an AI-enabled world, create breakthrough innovations and accelerate Africa’s digital transformation”, says Rijnsburger.

“AI is not about replacing humans, but rather amplifying human ingenuity with intelligent technology. We believe it has the power to extend our capabilities so that we can achieve more. When made accessible to everyone, AI will transform industries, make us more productive, and help solve some of society’s biggest challenges. We’re committed to ensuring Africa plays its part in this smart revolution.”

Source: African Strategic-Ventures (ASV) & The Exchange.