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Microsoft plans to make AI available to Africa

By  Princewill Ekwujuru

Microsoftsays through its 4Africa initiatives has its sights set on making Artificial Intelligence, AI available to everyone on the continent.

The company in a statement said this is in line with its global mission to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. “We are partnering with forward-thinking policy makers, innovative startups, technology partners, civil society groups and stakeholders to promote the growth of a vibrant AI ecosystem in Africa – one that enables inclusive growth and provides a clear and trusted path to digital transformation.”

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In promoting innovation with AI, the statement said: “Many of our local partners, including SMEs and startups, have already begun their AI journeys. Nigerian startup, MyMusic, has experimented with chatbots to help users discover new local music. And fintech startup, who we first met in 2016, is now building AI into their credit-scoring algorithms, enabling more unbanked farmers and small business owners to access loans the first time.”

The statement further said that in the finance industry, 66 per cent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is listed as unbanked. The proliferation of mobile banking across the continent has increased financial inclusion, and AI-powered intelligent applications are now taking this further. AI can capture and crunch large volumes of non-traditional data, such as mobile wallet transactions, that enable service providers to make automated loan decisions to new customers, with no previous financial track records, in seconds.

“While AI is primed to be the driving force of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, its widespread acceptance and adoption among businesses is still in early stages. The year 2018 was an important one in shifting current perceptions around AI, demonstrating it as a technology that is here to augment human capabilities, not replace them, and to benefit the speed and scale of any organisation, large or small.

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“These conversations have carried weight. In just four years, the number of global organisations deploying AI has increased by 270 percent.”

The statement said: “In Africa, the momentum is similar, and continues to grow as access to high quality broadband and cloud computing improves. Organisations are recognising AI’s ability to help with some of the continent’s most pervasive problems, from reducing poverty to improving healthcare and enhancing crop yields to feed a growing population.”

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