Big names come together to tackle AI in South Africa

 ·5 Jun 2023

South Africa has launched a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) association that aims to encourage the adoption of responsible AI for the commercial and societal benefit of all South Africans.

The new body is called the South African Artificial Intelligence Association (SAAIA) and will focus on economic growth, trade, investment, equality and inclusivity through the use of AI.

The founding Advisory Board members are derived from a diverse range of organisations, including:

  • Michalsons;
  • GIZ;
  • ExploreAI;
  • Cirrus AI;
  • TinyML Foundation;
  • Augmented Startups;
  • Data Economy Policy Hub (DepHUB);
  • Socially Acceptable;
  • mLab;
  • Zindi;
  • Technology Innovation Agency;
  • ecosystem.Ai;
  • Tshwane University of Technology;
  • Western Cape Government; and
  • Webber Wentzel.

The SAAIA mission is to engage both individuals and organisations, novices and experts, those who are connected and not connected so no one is left behind, said the association.

“It is of vital importance that the opportunities Artificial Intelligence presents are possible and available for everyone to embrace,” it said.

Therefore its mission is underpinned by ten key objectives:

  • Serve as the voice of the industry;
  • Provide analysis and research to inform strategy and decision-making;
  • Help National, Provincial and City Governments with policy-making;
  • Unite buyers and suppliers to grow the economy;
  • Connect SMMEs to funding to create new companies and jobs;
  • Attract FDI to South Africa as the “4IR gateway” to Africa;
  • Help African smart tech companies find markets abroad;
  • Showcase the best of South African AI Innovation and Research;
  • Promote debate on inclusion, ethics, regulation and standards; and
  • Share best practices and educational resources for all.

Dr Nick Bradshaw, the founder of SAAIA, stated, “Our research has shown that AI and related automation technologies are currently impacting over 120 traditional industries globally and creating new opportunities and challenges in a timescale never seen before.

“The speed of this disruption is faster than any other industrial revolution that has gone before it.”

“SAAIA seeks to encourage stakeholders in the adoption of responsible AI for the commercial and societal benefit of the citizens of South Africa with a primary focus on regulation, economic growth, trade, investment, fairness, equality and inclusivity,” he added.

The association also noted that Individual SAAIA membership is free, and members gain access to resources, insights and news throughout the year.

Members also receive discounts to join the association’s annual event, AI Expo Africa, which this year is being held in Johannesburg on 2-3 November at the Sandton Convention Centre.

SAAIA will be holding a formal launch event and roadshow series kicking off in Pretoria on 19th July.

Read: AI is threatening these jobs in South Africa

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