Artificial Intelligence(AI) driven innovations, startups and products in Africa 

Artificial Intelligence is a combination of technologies that enable machines to act with higher levels of intelligence and emulate human capabilities to sense, comprehend and act. AI can drive growth in three ways; intelligent automation of workforce, augmentation of both labour and physical capital and drive innovation. In Africa, several startups in the field of AI have be witnessed to date. These startups are in sectors such as Finance, Healthcare and Agriculture, among others.

To begin with, there is the DataProphet, a South African startup that has developed various machine-learning interventions mainly for finance and insurance sector. They have also added a number of large industrial and fast moving consumer goods clients. The startup is an AI-as-a service that works with manufacturers worldwide to optimise their production via existing plant data machinery. Among the applications the startup has designed are a conversational agent for inquiries and a solution to detect emotion via image which has been integrated into a game for major Japanese publisher Bandai Namco.

Another South African based startup is Clevva. The company uses virtual advisors on artificial intelligence platforms to advise sales and technical consultants. The platform has been incorporated by large organisations in sectors such as banking, insurance, telecommunications, oil and gas, and electronics. The startup has been showcased by Gartner in 2015 as one of six African Innovations and selected by Microsoft to be part of its BizSpark programme.

Moreover, Kudi is another startup based in Nigeria, which has developed a chatbot for the financial sector. It allows users to make payments and send money. Their technology leverages AI to make sense of user requests, conduct conversations, understand user spending habits, and prevent fraud. Still in Nigeria, there is Zenith Bank Plc. Zenith launched several new solutions that enable more convenient, safe and quick customer transactions. These include the bank’s Scan to Pay App which can be used by Zenith and non-zenith customers to make online and in-store payments in seconds through quick response code scanning on any internet enabled phone. The bank’s mobile app also offers enhanced functionalities such as instant account opening for new customer.

There is which is based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It offers several AI solutions to financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies. The startup has also developed a solution that uses an algorithm that pairs financial behaviour, spending and other data along with emotional cues and provides clients with assistance around financial matters such as payments, administration, rewards, education, analytics and tracking.

In the agriculture sector, there is FarmDrive, a Kenyan data analysis startup is an alternative credit scoring platform for smallholder farmers. It uses mobile phones, alternative data and machine learning to close to critical data gap that prevents financial institutions from lending to creditworthy smallholder farmers.

Furthermore, there is Aerobotics, Cape Town based. The company uses artificial intelligence to assist farming consultants in South Africa, Australia, and the UK to analyse processed maps and extract actionable information to identify problem areas in crops such as wheat, macadamia nuts, citrus and sugar cane. This enables the company to develop variable rate fertilisation application maps and predict the yield of crops.

In the healthcare sector, there is what is called the Sophie Bot, Developed by a Kenyan startup, this free chatbots provides a platform for questions on sexual and reproductive health. In a society where talking about sexual health is often a taboo, Sophie Bot provides anonymity, credible answers, platform independence and a user-friendly conversational interface. This service is available on several popular messaging apps, including Messenger and Twitter. 

The above mentioned are some of the several startups in Africa, which is an indication that Africa is catching up in terms of innovation. With the availability of funding, Africa proves to be promising in the field of data science and Artificial Intelligence.

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