The African tech space is currently experiencing its highest level of activities yet. Every day, inventors and innovators are coming up with tech solutions to address various socio-economic challenges in our home countries and continent in general.
VC4Africa has featured the latest 10 emerging technologies; artificial intelligence and robotics that are shaping the African tech space. These 10 upcoming artificial intelligence and robotics technologies redefining the African tech space are as follows:
Having good transportation infrastructure can either make or break the success of a society. The African continent, unfortunately to a large extent, serves as an example where unreliable and non-existent road network slows down the rate of socio-economic development. So, the continent has come up with an innovative solution to mitigate the lack of enough road links, by adopting cargo drone at massive scale. However, drones are miniature aeroplanes and like any aeroplanes, drones need somewhere to land and take off. So Africa is gearing up to set up some of the world’s first droneports.
While drone usher in a new frontier for doing business for the African, other robotics too have proven to have a great potential on a number of occasions. Take for instance, thecase of Ebola outbreak in West Africa, if medics were to employ the use of robotics to run diagnostic tests and treatment on Ebola patients. A lot of lives (including medical workers) could be saved. But in a continent where unemployment and poverty level are so high, perhaps it would not be a wise move to have robots take up much of the work that could otherwise create employment and reduce poverty. Be that as it may, there are other many avenues where robotics could be employed to help the continent; check out the Africa Robotics Network.
Africa seemingly best shot at venturing into the space science is the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) astronomy project installed in Kalahari Desert in South Africa. The project aims at mapping out the early universe using radio telescopes. The first phase of the project will be complete at a price tag of $740 million. You can read more on this at our previous blog post by clicking here.
When Voyager I was released to travel out into space in 1977, it had a fastened golden disc fastened to it. Within that disc were human sounds from Earth from different languages across the planet. It was the Chewa language of Africans from the Central and Southern parts of the continent that was stored in that disc. The recording were something like: “How are you, people of other planet?”. Well, that was in the 20th century, and for the 21st century more African language have been adopted by big tech companies such as Google with its Google Translate which now only features just 10 African languages. However, Translators Without Borders say there are 2,000 different languages in Africa. Of these, only 242 are actively being used in main stream media and just 63 are used in judicial systems. The implication of underrepresented African languages can only mean that the poorest and most vulnerable African ‘tribes’ are struggling to make themselves understood in their own languages. The solution to this comes in the form of Babel, which is creating a living dictionary for hundreds of indigenous African languages. The African continent does not have to rely on big corporations like Google and IBM with its Project Watson to preserve our languages.
Tshimologong Pre cinct is a technology accelerator of Wits University in Johannesburg, which has the backing of companies such as IBM and Microsoft. As much as 40% of South Africa’s GDP is generated within a short drive of Tshimologong and many students live in the area, so reorienting the precinct around technology makes sense. Similarly, in Kenya, the Gearbox makerspace for design and rapidprototyping will move into the railway district in downtown Nairobi. The year 2015 will see similar initiatives from Dakar to Durban as city planners, property developers and technologists realize they can work together to produce jobs and vitality.
This year is ideal for augmented reality to hit the market in Africa, and now is the time to start planning for it. How might an African second life, visited by commuters on crowded minibuses, differ from augmented realities in industrialized countries?
Wearables are not a cheap consumer product for most people, but in 2015 we will see them gain market share through cheap smart watches and health trackers. That will subtly challenge present behaviour for wealthier early adopters. Will 2,000 steps a day suffice for African city-dwellers? Will cholesterol tracking influence food choices?
A study by iPass, an American wi-fi provider, suggests that wi-fi hotspots will proliferate on the planet. It predicts that in 2018 there will be a wi-fi beacon for every 20 people on Earth and one beacon for every 400 Africans. So, the year 2015 will see a more concerted push towards spreading wi-fi more equitably around Africa. Sub-orbital satellites using solar sailplane technology will close financing. These great and graceful craft always aloft in the stratosphere will usefully compete with high-altitude “loons”, white-space radio frequency and low-tech stratospheric repeaters. A related activity will be to make the most of the available bandwidth by installing the best available spam filters.
The migration from dumb phonesto smartphones is so obvious a trend that it can often be overlooked, but new guesstimates form Cisco underline the extent of the coming change. In South Africa, Cisco says, internet usage will grow from 710 megabytes a month to 7.2 gigabytes in 2019. Most of this will be on newly purchased smartphones and their related devices, such as wearables and augmented reality. And where South Africa goes, the larger African economies follow.
The year 2015 will see a move towards futurism among African intellectuals, with avant-garde artists and writers anticipating Africa’s forthcoming acceleration in their works. Concepts will include new technologies, the loss of wildlife species, the creation of cities and the longer view of transhumanism and interstellar travel. Wider discussions about technology will take place. A good example is South African film director Neill Blomkamp and his latest blockbuster, Chappie, set in Johannesburg: “Humanity’s last hope is not human.”
This article was first feature on VC4Africa.com, you can read about it by following this link.
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