Africa stands on the precipice of emerging technologies and innovation in response to decades of hardship and frustration.
Amongst those innovations are those in the AI sphere, with African developers and innovators finding unique and lucrative ways to make the lives of clients and customers easier.
Here are 5 ways AI is being used from Nigeria to Kenya:
- Banking Facilitation
AI-powered chatbots are becoming the norm in a number of banks across the continent, usually powered by Facebook’s Messenger API, these bots are used to make it easy for customers to make transactions. Banks can also use them to provide services on WhatsApp or Facebook itself.
Examples include Leo, from the United Bank for Africa. Access Bank in Nigeria operates Ada. Even the Nigerian Stock Exchange maintains a chatbot called X-Bot since 2019.
- Credit and Moneylending
Banks rely on credit for effective lending with mitigated risks – credit is developed using data from those that would borrow the money, from their salary history to spending habits. Many credit rating systems in Africa do not yet have enough information on customers or ways to get it, and with the issue of financial inclusion as relevant as it is innovating ways to help more Africans do formal banking is key.
Enter Migo, a Lagos-based money-lending startup, that has developed an AI system that gathers data on potential clients, analyses the data and uses it to make informed lending decisions. Migo also works with banks to deploy the same technology to aid banks in minimizing credit risk.
UTU – meaning ‘Humanity” in Swahili, a Kenya-based startup, has built an AI system that is used to improve trust – its software models the human behaviour and concept around trust – to understand how people show trust and then extends this information to aid personal assistants and e-commerce operations make decisions.
“If you can understand how people give trust, it is easy to improve and make them feel more comfortable with systems such as Siri or Amazon Echo,” writes Tech Cabal’s Abubaker Idris, paraphrasing a quote from Jason Eisen, founder of Utu.
Nigerian startup Touchabl uses AI to allow customers to buy an item of clothing simply by tapping or clicking that item on any picture. Touchabl had recently raised $20,000 from GenesysTechHub, a community development project based in Nigeria.
Other innovations include Cellulant, a Kenya-based payments company, that uses features like Snapchat filters to allow customers to try out items, like shades of lipsticks, to decide whether or not to buy them.
- AI in Agriculture
Apollo Agriculture from Kenya is combining machine learning, geographic information sensing and soil information to aid in increasing the productivity of farmers. More and more companies are using machine intelligence to solve issues in the agriculture value chain.