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Emerging Tech

Five African AI startups to watch in 2023

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fast becoming the go-to technology for the global economy. It is becoming more popular for people to use AI to write blog posts and for companies to automate and improve business responses to business audiences.

According to TechTarget, AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.

Furthermore, specific applications of AI include expert systems, natural language processing, speech recognition and machine vision.

AI adoption also works by combining large amounts of data with fast, processing, and intelligent algorithms, that allow the software to learn automatically from patterns or features in the data.

According to the World Bank, strengthening digital inclusion is of paramount importance for any nation's competitiveness and social stability.

Due to its large youth population, Africa has the potential to become a leader in the adoption of AI as per a report by the African Development Bank.

However, the adoption and sometimes the use of AI tools in the African context can be lower than the adoption in other markets.

AI adoption challenges

According to the Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index, published by Oxford Insights in 2022, there are real obstacles to AI readiness in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Although broadband coverage has increased, most of the region still lacks access to mobile Internet.

Sub-Saharan African countries have the lowest average scores on the percentage of households with Internet access and the cost of the cheapest Internet-enabled device relative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita measures, the report found.

Moreover, there are many challenges to the widespread adoption of AI technology on the African continent. These challenges include a lack of skilled professionals and a need for better regulation and infrastructure.

Be that as it may, there are African startups that are not deterred by the endless challenges the continent faces. These startups are using artificial intelligence to solve problems in healthcare, business and marketing.

Connecting Africa has compiled a list of five AI powered startups that have been making an impact in the lives of the communities they serve and are worth watching in 2023.

1: iiDENTIFii

South African-based digital identity startup iiDENTIFii has created a face authentication technology that safely authenticates users via their cell phones or computers within seconds.

"We have created an app that can prove the identity of a person within 30 seconds, with only a phone and an identity document, iiDENTIFii can determine whether a person is alive, by using patented liveness detection technology that proves biometric 3D and 4D liveness," co-founder and chief strategy officer Lance Fanaroff said in an interview with Connecting Africa.

iiDENTIFii CEO Gur Geva and CTO Marco Wagener.   (Source: iiDENTIFii).
iiDENTIFii CEO Gur Geva and CTO Marco Wagener.
(Source: iiDENTIFii).

Another key factor of the authentication technology is to help fight identity fraud.

"I think they say that every two seconds in the world someone's identity is stolen and that is what we want to prevent. We want to prevent the financial burden it costs individuals when someone hacks into their phones and does a transaction," he explained.

Founded in 2018, the platform uses a reverse billing mechanism so the businesses pay for the data used by the customers. The company also introduced a browser based alternative where customers just click on a link to do the authentication process as opposed to downloading the app.

"iiDENTIFii's technology will work as long as a cellphone that has a camera is used. In some cases, geo location is also used for onboarding purposes," Fanaroff added.

2: Amini

Nairobi-based climate tech startup Amini is focused on solving Africa's environmental data gap through artificial intelligence and satellite technology and has raised $2 million in a pre-seed funding round.

The Kenyan startup was founded in 2022 by Kate Kallot and Amini was designed to address Africa's data scarcity, facilitate capital investment, promote climate resilience, and accelerate economic development opportunities in the region.

Furthermore, the platform also provides access to valuable environmental data analytics, including drought, flood, soil and crop health.

This data can be processed to forecast crop yields for smallholder farmers in seconds and to measure the impact of natural disasters across the region.

Before the funding, the company initially focused on the insurance industry, however, it is now experiencing rapid expansion into supply chain monitoring, specifically at the "last mile", or the initial stages of the global supply chain.

Amini founder Kate Kallot.   (Source: Amini Website).
Amini founder Kate Kallot.
(Source: Amini Website).

"We are building the single source of truth for environmental data across Africa. Data has the potential of transforming livelihoods by enabling everything from climate resilience to sustainable value chains," said Kallot when the company received funding.

"Should Amini reach its full potential and solve this problem, we are setting up Africa for tremendous transformation and development over the next decade," she added.

3: Curacel

Nigerian-based Curacel is an AI platform that aims to drive insurance penetration in emerging markets via APIs enabling insurers to connect with digital distribution channels and administer their claims.

Founded in 2019, by Henry Mascot and John Dada, the AI platform recently raised $3 million in seed funding.

Initially the platform was intended to be an electronic health information management platform for healthcare providers, enabling clinics to digitize and manage paper records, appointments, patient communications, billing and reporting through a web app.

Curacel is an AI platform that aims to drive insurance penetration in emerging markets via APIs enabling insurers to connect with digital distribution channels and administer their claims.   (Source: Curacel Website).
Curacel is an AI platform that aims to drive insurance penetration in emerging markets via APIs enabling insurers to connect with digital distribution channels and administer their claims.
(Source: Curacel Website).

However, the co-founders realized a much bigger problem facing healthcare, particularly as regards insurance.

"We are bullish on the potential of the right technology in the right places to close the protection gap across Africa and emerging markets," Mascot said in a press release.

"It is an exciting time for us as we secure the capital to deliver the vision and onboard the people who have built these technologies at scale in more mature markets, and we are looking forward to delivering more technology solutions to drive up insurance inclusion," he continued.

4: AIfluence

Founded by Nelson Aseka, Lamusia Anzaya and Ankit Jindal in 2019, AIfluence uses advanced machine learning algorithms to match influencers with a target demographic through its audience-first strategy.

The Kenyan adtech startup in 2021 raised a $1 million seed funding round to accelerate the expansion of its AI-powered marketing platform.

The AI-powered marketing platform allows advertisers to onboard and coordinate hundreds to thousands of micro and nano influencers per campaign, generating authentic peer-to-peer conversations and superior conversion.

AIfluence Founder and CEO Nelson Aseka.   (Source: AIfluence).
AIfluence Founder and CEO Nelson Aseka.
(Source: AIfluence).

"We are at the cusp of a revolution, globally the way marketing works is changing. We find ourselves at an intersection of advanced technology and the fastest-growing region in the world in terms of digital and social media penetration," Aseka said after it raised the funding.

5: GotBot

South Africa's GotBot is an AI chatbot solution that automates and improves business responses to business audiences.

Established in 2016, GotBot not only saves people time by automating tasks they need to repeat daily, but it also offers their audiences immediate responses to their requests.

"GotBot is a social commerce and customer experience solution that enables organizations to easily communicate with customers, through Facebook Messenger, Twitter, WeChat, Skype, SMS, and Web chat conversations," GotBot Founder and CEO Nick Argyros said in an interview with Connecting Africa.

GotBot is an AI chatbot solution that automates and improves business responses to business audiences.   (Source: GotBot).
GotBot is an AI chatbot solution that automates and improves business responses to business audiences.
(Source: GotBot).

GotBot is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that is a framework to build bots and you can build these bots on different chat platforms.

Furthermore, GotBot offers a single dashboard for multiple platforms that are integrated with your current data sources.

According to a report titled The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Africa's Future, AI has the potential to be a powerful tool for economic development, providing solutions to some of the continent's most pressing challenges.

Related posts:

*Top image source: Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik.

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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