Even though Africa is still experiencing many challenges on multiple fronts on its journey to achieve full socio-economic and technological inclusion, it is very exciting to see so many initiatives and events where governments, business, academia and non-profit organisations are all working together to help transform Africa, in particular through technological innovation.

Some recent examples include the 2015 GSMA 360 Series Africa conference in Cape Town where GSMA had reported that the mobile industry in the region has contributed over $100 billion to the region’s economy in 2014. One of the themes at the conference focused on exploring the power of mobile to drive digital, financial and social inclusion for the under-served in the African continent. At the Transform Africa 2015 summit in Rwanda, which ended today, participants committed ensuring that Africa achieves socio-economic development through Digital Innovation. This summit was attended by ten heads of state and government and 2500 delegates and is seen as a platform for dialogue and deal-making between governments and the private sector on technology solutions for socio-economic transformation. Besides young innovators from Africa and beyond that showcased their potential, there was also advocacy for women empowerment through technology and recognising outstanding innovations that are excelling in using technology to drive socio-economic transformation.

With respect to technological innovation that unlocks financial access for Africa, I’m also excited to announce the launch of JUMO, the company behind Africa’s first mobile marketplace and one of the fastest-growing mobile fintech platforms in the world. JUMO is a mobile money market place for African people, small businesses and mobile network operators. The service is driven by machine learning algorithms which assess mobile wallet and GSM usage to determine suitability for a loan, and identify the best product available from a range of options. New products in development include savings products and other working capital solutions for businesses.

On the non-profit organisational front, the Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa (MIIA) was also recently founded to establish an innovative community and accelerator for Machine Intelligence and Data Science Research and Applications to help transform Africa.

MIIA’s mission is as follows:

  • To build a strong and innovative Machine Intelligence and Data Science community in Africa to help transform Africa by networking together the critical mass of resources, promote and sponsor learning activities, and strengthen scientific and technological excellence, mentoring and collaboration on the continent.
  • To accelerate and deliver breakthrough Machine Intelligence and Data Science research and practical applications to solve African problems, support entrepreneurial activity, and help drive long-term inclusive and sustainable scientific, technological and socio-economic development on the continent.
  • To partner with governments, business, startup incubators, non-profit organizations, universities, and research organizations from around the world to support and help mould the future of Machine Intelligence and Data Science research and applications in Africa.

Whilst MIIA is expected to officially launch within the next few months with full-blown features for community building, sharing, and collaboration, anyone interested to join this community is already welcome to sign up via the MachineIntelligenceAfrica.org website (the new website will have sign in via LinkedIn).

Jacques Ludik

Vice President Data Science | Chief Data Officer at JUMO.WORLD; Founder of MIIA