The Artificial Intelligence Centre Of Excellence (AICE) launched the first inaugural AI for Leaders Roundtable to build smart capacity and grow the AI market economy in Africa.
Themed, The Potential of AI in Transforming Businesses, the Roundtable targeted C-Level executives from top industries, to discuss and build capacity around ethical AI for revenue generation. This is to ensure that executives and business leaders understand AI, its applications, the infrastructure requirements, and how ethical AI can generate business growth and transformation in various industries for Africa.
“If we don’t invest in smart capacity, we will be left behind. We have an opportunity of creating a $ 1.2bn for Kenya in AI if we can train 1000 AI engineers. AICE will convert statisticians to data scientists and then junior AI Engineers while building real-life projects so that they have proof of work that makes them ready for the workplace, said John Kamara, Co-founder, and CIO at AICE.
AICE is built on the belief that the right education and competencies can unlock human potential and make the world a better place. We are driven by the desire to train local AI engineers to solve our problems and create a platform for further collaboration where multi-industry stakeholders from development partners, civil societies, entrepreneurs, academia, government, private sectors, and all industry players can harness the common good of the potential of AI in enhancing health, agriculture, education, good governance, financial independence, and general economic growth.
In attendance, as a key speaker was AICE’s partner Financial Sector Deepening Kenya (FSDK) CEO Tamara Cook said, “FSDK partnership with AICE was conceptualized with a clear understanding of building capacity for the local financial markets in leveraging new technological developments and as an opportunity to furthering financial inclusion. Though there have been initiatives in this space, it was crucial to demonstrate to the financial sector the power of embedding AI applications to real-world problems in a bid to enhance the reach previously un-bankable segments with value-adding solutions.”
Dr. James Mwangi, CEO of Equity Bank additionally spoke on the value of data and AI in the financial sector as a key driver for increasing revenue in the smart economy era.
“AI helped Equity Bank move from wisdom to intelligence based on insights from patterns. 93% of all loans processed by Equity Bank are done by algorithms. Banks are working to convert their volumes of data into information, this is where AI can help in establishing hidden patterns that are not apparent when looking at data. We have come to learn that we can integrate machine learning into every facet of the business to eliminate human bias and human error. This is currently deployed in payment technologies, process automation, and credit scoring at Equity Bank,” stated Dr. James Mwangi.
AICE’s mission is to champion AI solutions, build capacity, demystify Artificial Intelligence in Africa, as well as create ethical AI solutions that tackle Africa’s challenges effectively. AICE aims to build innovations that will create jobs, and drive human wealth within the artificial intelligence landscape.
John Kamara added, “5% of AI engineers in the world are in Africa, building capacity means we can grow the market economy in Africa. AICE aims to transform 1000 AI engineers in 3 years and open up Kenya to AI opportunities around the world. This will create a $1.4B market for smart AI-driven technology in 5 years. Be part of our revolution!”
AICE focuses on three modules: A Centre of Excellence for ICT and AI in Kenya and beyond, in knowledge and academic research; Research and development (R&D); that will create opportunities for the adoption and utilization of AI across Africa and beyond; and AI Services in Africa.
The Centre has made immense strides, following its kick-off in August last year, whilst also building optimal visibility for AI as a change-maker. Founded on ethical AI, AICE is focusing on having conversations about AI; but still maintains the use of ethical technology that will set precedence in Africa.
AICE welcomed its first cohort of students across Africa in December and kicked off the 4 months dual online-onsite program this January. The inaugural AICE AI Training program has 30 students from Kenya and will roll out other cohorts for East Africa to ultimately include the rest of Africa by 2022. Africa has taken major leaps in digitization, the current environment under Covid 19 pandemic requires a rapid digital transformation of organizations with AI and data science becoming critical new tools to facilitate the shift.