/ 19 March 2023

Artificial intelligence institute set up in South Africa

Artificial Intelligence
(Getty Images)

Africa is improving the way it solves problems through self-designed and self-managed artificial intelligence.

This week, Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele, in partnership with the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and the University of Johannesburg, launched the Artificial Intelligence Institute of South Africa (AIISA).

AIISA will focus on three sectors of the economy: the fourth industrial revolution in manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture and food processing.

Other entities are also stepping forward to develop AI, such as Lelapa AI, which two weeks ago launched as an Africa-centric research and product laboratory.

The future Lelapa AI envisions “is one in which AI helps people to solve contemporary challenges”, said chief executive Pelonomi Moiloa. 

Lelapa AI focuses on natural language processing, which allows the user to engage with services in their home language. 

“Language is an important component of gaining trust and understanding,” Moiloa said.

The hub’s origins are rooted in the Deep Learning Indaba, held annually since 2017, on machine learning and AI in Africa.

AI creates solutions “that are safer, solutions that require limited resources due to cost or because the resources do not exist, like data” and solutions that otherwise would not be possible due to limited human resources, Moiloa said, referencing the national health department’s initiative MomConnect, which supports women’s maternal health through cell phone technology. 

AI is assisting small-scale farmers with crop monitoring in Uganda, microfinancing for African businesses and data analytics to advance business performance. 

In 2014, Kenya’s largest power supplier, Kenya Power, announced the implementation of an automated system that analyses real-time data with historic data for the utility to expand its operations.