For many countries, the prospects of artificial intelligence (AI) are thrilling. They conjure up the kinds of innovations we see in science fiction. In Africa, however, the dawn of AI carries with it a fear of falling further behind more-developed economies, rather than the eager anticipation of new technology--the World Economic Forum predicts a net loss of five million jobs to AI worldwide by 2020.
Self-taught coder develops model for diagnosing breast cancer; looks to solve some of the continent's biggest challenges and inspires youth across the continent as Africa Code Week Youth Ambassador for 2019. JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, July 9, 2019 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- "It takes a village to raise a child": as the Fourth Industrial Revolution sweeps across Africa and more of its youth develop coding and other digital skills, there may come a time to update this old saying to: "It takes one child to raise the prospects of a village." And based on the quest of one young man from a village in Ghana to solve some of the major problems faced by his community, this saying could become commonplace as more young innovators enter the fray. Inspired by global technology success stories, Mustapha Diyaol Haqq, a 19-year-old from Kumasi in Southern Ghana, realised he too could deliver innovation where it was most needed, starting with his very home town. "Seeing how the big tech companies used innovation to solve some of the world's biggest problems made me realise how important it is to learn to code," says Haqq. "I looked online for any free courses that could help me develop coding skills and completed as many as I could."
The second annual CyFyAfrica 2019 -- the Conference on Technology, Innovation, and Society -- took place in Tangier, Morocco, in June. It was a vibrant, diverse and dynamic gathering attended by various policymakers, UN delegates, ministers, governments, diplomats, media, tech company representatives, and academics from over 65 nations, mostly African and Asian countries. The conference's central aim, stated unapologetically, was to bring forth the continent's voices in the global discourse. The president of Observer Research Foundation (one of the co-hosts of the conference) in their opening message emphasized that the voices of Africa's youth need to be put front and center as the continent increasingly comes to rely on technology to address its social, educational, health, economic, and financial issues. The conference was intended in part to provide a platform for those young people, and they were afforded that opportunity, along with many Western scholars from various universities and tech developers from industrial and commercial sectors.
While stuck in traffic in Lagos a few years ago, I noticed a couple of delivery motorcycles buzzing in between the stopped cars. Emblazoned across the sides of the motorbikes was the logo of Jumia, a company that brands itself as the "largest e-commerce platform in Africa." I'd heard about the bikes, but this was the first time I'd seen them in action: a bespoke solution to the problem of commercial delivery in Nigeria. All around, Lagos's street-level trading culture was bustling despite the ninety-degree heat. Beneath umbrella-covered stands, dozens of curbside merchants sold products as varied as mobile phones and kola nuts.
Africa is witnessing a quiet revolution which holds out real hope of banishing poverty and hunger and driving economic growth. This transformation is not in sectors like oil and gas, minerals or tourism, which grab global headlines, but in agriculture, which remains the backbone of the continent's economy. Despite the rapid growth in the services sector, agriculture still accounts for more than a third of its GDP. Africa is urbanising rapidly, but agriculture still employs two-thirds of the workforce. Evidence has shown that growth in agriculture is up to 11 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in any other sector.