South Africa, an immensely iconic country, is found in the Southern Part of the African continent. It is known for rapid developments among which include Artificial Intelligence. Today, many sectors in the country have adopted the eminent use of such a unique technology in improving service delivery, especially in the health sector. Entirely, the country has exponentially invested  US$1.6 billion [1] in the past 10 years greatly accounting to its huge Return on Investments with more companies adopting the use of AI in their sectors for experimental purposes in companies and organisations with up to 60% in the fields of Chatbots, Robotic Process Automation and Advanced Analytics.

According to the joint report published by Microsoft and EY, around half (46%) of South African companies say they are already actively piloting AI within their organisations.

The report points out that “two thirds (67%) of South African organisations pinpointed machine learning as the AI technology most useful to them, followed by smart robotics and biometrics. Looking ahead, almost all (96%) local businesses expect to gain significant financial benefits by using AI solutions to optimise their operations. The top use cases for AI listed by companies surveyed include automation (83%) and prediction (70%).”

The use cases in question include a broad range of applications, from increasing employee productivity to predicting customer churn or consumer conversion rates and proactively managing machinery downtime [2].

Microsoft invested in two data centres, which is considered one of the biggest Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) investments on the continent to date. Making use of the massive computing power of the Johannesburg and Cape Town- located centres, government departments, State-owned Entities (SOEs), large businesses, small and medium businesses (SMBs) and citizens will be able fuel South Africa’s inclusive growth, spur innovation, accelerate digital transformation, and advance technologies including Artificial Intelligence, cloud and edge computing in the local market.It is expected that this investment will bring 100,000 new jobs [3].

Mapping of most prominent companies and think tanks in terms of AI development 

The most prominent South African AI startups are:

  • Data Prophet, a creator of various machine-learning interventions, mainly for the finance and insurance sector [4];
  • Clevva, which uses virtual advisors on AI platforms to advise sales and technical consultants [5]
  • Aerobotics, which develops AI systems for drones [6]
  • LarcAI, intelligent business oriented software solutions [7];

The most prominent Research center:

  • The Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR) consists of the University of Cape Town, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, North-West University, the University of Pretoria, Stellenbosch University and the University of the Western Cape [8].

The most prominent Mobile Intelligent Autonomous Systems:

  • Mobile Intelligent Autonomous Systems group (MIAS); CSIR researchers in mobile intelligent autonomous systems design and develop algorithms and mathematical models for robots operating in real-world environments that may be unstructured and dynamic [9].

Use of AI for social good in South Africa:

  • Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator helps connect unemployed youth with entry-level positions. As a participant in Google Cloud’s Data Solutions for Change program, they’ve used data analytics and ML to match over 50,000 candidates with jobs [10].
  • rAInbow – Founding partner Sage Foundation worked with AI for Good and the Soul City Institute for Social Justice to develop rAInbow. It is an artificial intelligence (AI) powered smart companion supporting victims of domestic violence in South Africa. It has won a UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Netexplo Award [11].

References:

[1] Writer, S. (2019, June 10). How AI is being used in South Africa. Retrieved December 17, 2020, from https://businesstech.co.za/news/enterprise/322505/how-ai-is-being-used-in-south-africa/

[2] Ibid.

[3] Microsoft data centres will create 100,000 new jobs in South Africa. (2019, May 23). Retrieved December 17, 2020, Retrieved from: https://businesstech.co.za/news/cloud-hosting/318824/microsoft-data-centres-will-create-100000-new-jobs-in-south-africa/ 

[4] https://dataprophet.com/; https://twitter.com/_dataprophet

[5]  https://clevva.com/; https://www.linkedin.com/company/clevva-pty-ltd/ 

[6] https://www.aerobotics.com/?identifier=default-sign-up-button; https://www.aerobotics.com/?identifier=default-sign-up-button 

[7] https://larcai.com/about-larcai/; https://twitter.com/larc_ai 

[8] http://www.cair.za.net/ 

[9] https://www.csir.co.za/mobile-intelligent-autonomous-systems-mias-laboratory; https://twitter.com/CSIR 

[10] https://www.harambee.co.za/about/; https://twitter.com/Harambee4Work 

[11] https://www.hirainbow.org/; https://twitter.com/Chat2Bo