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South Africa’s AI Ambitions: Handling Economic Growth and Regulatory Obstacles

The Minister of Communications for South Africa, Mondli Gungubele, emphasized at a national Artificial Intelligence summit the importance of not lagging behind in AI advancements, noting the technology’s potential economic benefits.

Gungubele highlighted that AI adoption could yield significant economic gains for South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya, with an estimated combined impact of R2.5 trillion ($136 billion).

During the summit, the country unveiled plans to craft its own national AI policy, aiming to address issues like job displacement, bias in AI systems, and potential misuse in military applications.

The minister stressed the need for regulations to formalize open AI, focusing on developing continental and national AI policies and programs.

Additionally, the government aims to establish an AI Expert Advisory Council, led by Professor Vukosi Marivate, to guide the development and implementation of AI policies and regulations. Marivate specializes in Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Natural Language Processing (NLP).

Stakeholders at the summit discussed various strategies for a “better AI future” in South Africa, including policy frameworks, regulatory experiments, and defining expectations from AI.

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In his keynote address, the Minister underscored AI’s role in advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, stressing it as a global imperative.

Meanwhile, the generative AI market in Africa is projected to reach $0.89 billion by 2024, showcasing significant growth potential.

Post-summit, the Minister expressed optimism about leveraging AI to tackle economic and social challenges, anticipating a clear roadmap for progress.

Globally and in Africa, AI recognition has surged, prompting the need for regulation. While some African countries have developed national AI strategies, formal regulations remain absent.

Techrectory with Agency Report.

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