In Africa, the development of AI faces many obstacles

Artificial intelligence is in its infancy, explains a study published Friday by Qhubit Hub and Qhala, two Kenyan new technology research companies. AI is advancing at great speed around the world, but is taking slow steps in Africa. Lack of investment, logistics and government interest are all difficulties to overcome.

Lack of data, infrastructure, investments... AI must overcome many challenges to develop on the continent. (illustrative image) Getty Images - Andriy Onufriyenko

By: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in Nairobi


Gaëlle Laleix

First difficulty: data. Artificial intelligence becomes more and more efficient as it collects data. However, in Africa, this data is insufficient. The study published by Qhubit Hub and Qhala takes the example of images generated by artificial intelligence. Today, she can't produce a photo of a black doctor treating a white child.

More worrying, while AI has enabled great advances in the detection of cancers, particularly skin cancers, a study from the University of Hamilton Medicine in Canada demonstrates that these advances do not concern black skin. Lack of sufficient data.

Also listen Why and how to make AI made in Africa?

Another difficulty for the continent: the lack of infrastructure. Only four African countries have more than ten data centers. About ten have none at all. And only Morocco is equipped with computers powerful enough to generate AI. Finally, investments in this sector are generally minimal across the continent.

In November, researcher Seydina Ndiaye, member of the UN think tank on AI, warned of a risk of “

new colonization of Africa

” by artificial intelligence, if these imbalances are not corrected.

According to the Qhubit Hub and Qhala report, early regulation of the sector would also hinder its development. In Kenya, the government proposed a law on artificial intelligence and robotics last year, which sparked an outcry from professionals in the sector, such as Dr Shikoh Gitau, CEO of Qhala.

In Europe, we regulate the information produced by AI, in the United States, it is the technology. But in Africa, none of this exists. So what are we going to regulate? What we need first is to create an ecosystem with data, infrastructure, qualified labor. Then we can decide what to regulate.


Dr Shikoh Gitau, CEO of Qhala

Gaëlle Laleix


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