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The potential of AI Technology for Nigeria/Africa

Nigeria has the young experts to unlock the next industrial revolution, an AI Revolution.

As we see the artificial intelligence furore sweep across continents, one thing is clear: Africans have a goldmine at our fingertips. A rapidly growing population of 1.4 billion people, 70% under the age of 30, combined with huge growth in AI investments, creates a potent recipe for Africa. 

Africa and the Middle East are set to see the fastest growth in AI spending worldwide, reaching a predicted $6.4bn by 2026.

Africa missed the first, second and third industrial revolutions, but should not miss the fourth and fifth.

Data is critical for the world to achieve the sustainable development goals. And yet for eight of the 17 goals, fewer than half of all countries have data to report

The piece in the puzzle that will make this a reality is data, driven by highly skilled national tech expertise, and private-sector investments. For every dollar invested in data systems, there is an average return of $32. Data is the lifeblood for making decisions and is what will unlock an independent, wealthy future for Africa, making sure that new economic opportunities are shared.

Farmers, in particular, are set to benefit. One project in Ghana is helping Ghanaian cashew farmers use unmanned aerial vehicles in an AI-powered disease-detection innovation. The flying robots collect data from the leaves, stems and trunks of the cashew trees, allowing farmers to detect pest and disease symptoms before they become visible and lead to serious crop damage.

The initiative, funded by the German development agency GIZ, holds particular value because half of the world’s cashew nuts are grown in Africa.

Another project uses AI to help smallholder farmers in Ghana predict post-harvest shortages and gluts. The technology aims to build better prediction models for crop yields that will give Ghana and the region far greater food security. Given the volatility of managing a smallholder farm, this project – run by the Ghanaian non-profit organisation AGRI-WEB – will help the farmers secure a more stable and sustainable income.

As smallholder farms in Africa contribute up to 70% of the food supply, the potentially transformative impact of this data-driven technology on livelihoods and food security across the region is vast.