June 14, 2024
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Positioning Africa’s youth to win by harnessing AI for development

As the Artificial Intelligence (AI) wave sweeps across the globe, Africa finds itself at the forefront of a transformative moment that has the potential to reshape the continent’s development trajectory.

As home to the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population, Africa’s youth will form one of the world’s largest workforces by 2030.

As we celebrate World Youth Skills Day on July 15th, it is imperative to examine how to position the continent’s youth to leverage AI to transform lives and power economies.

The world is changing rapidly, and AI is at the centre of a revolution in how we generate new knowledge, collaborate and innovate. It is imperative to empower Africa’s youth to be able to leverage the speed, breadth, and depth of AI advancements to unlock the continent’s potential and solve development challenges. AI holds the promise of creating jobs, fostering innovation, and expanding access to essential services like healthcare, education, and finance.

Yet, effective deployment of AI technologies necessitates strategic investments in ICT infrastructure, including high-speed internet connectivity, data centres, and cloud computing capabilities. This requires African governments, institutions, and the private sector to channel resources into AI research and development. Africa must position itself to actively engage in shaping global discussions on AI and contribute to the development of context-specific data and guidelines.

The following strategic steps will help to effectively position Africa’s youth to harness the transformative potential of AI:

Enhancing AI skills for all youth

Equipping the continent’s young people with relevant technological skills is of paramount importance. Globally, young people are at the forefront of the ongoing AI revolution. However, the majority of AI experts are concentrated in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Africa is significantly underrepresented which hampers opportunities for African youth to interact with new technology and harness its power to solve problems. Africa must prioritize cost-effective, AI-focused education and skills development programs to reach diverse youth to ensure that no one is left behind.

Training a new generation of AI experts, data scientists, and engineers will drive innovation in AI technologies. Encouraging progress has already been made with the emergence of Artificial Intelligence Education in Africa, as various institutions across the continent offer postgraduate and undergraduate degrees, including Robotics Engineering.

Establishing more dedicated research centres and funding AI-related studies through scholarships will help to improve affordability and access. By fostering collaboration with global AI research institutions and technology companies, African countries can enhance program quality and competitiveness.

Creating African content and diverse data sets Encouraging young people to develop more African content and connecting AI to high-quality datasets from Africa will help to ensure context-specific predictive analytics and content

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