Africa’s seat at the AI table 🤖

And the companies building it

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Now, let’s dive into this week’s Tech Safari Take!

AI is taking over the world - from all-knowing chatbots to driverless cars.

Yet, many Africans are locked out of this new world.

But that’s changing, because Africa is going through a quiet AI revolution.

And local founders are leading the charge.

The Story

Africa has 75 languages spoken by over a million people each.

But ChatGPT, the granddaddy of AI tools, only understands 10 of them.

A new class of founders is solving this problem and building Africa’s seat at the AI table.

In April, two Zambian founders launched Vambo AI - practically ChatGPT with a grasp of African languages.

Vambo AI founders, Chido Dzinotyiwei and Isheanesu Misi.

The app understands 11 languages - including Swahili, Afrikaans, Arabic, Yoruba, and English.

And it’s quickly adding more.

It works just like ChatGPT but with a twist.

You talk to it in one language, and it responds in another one that you understand.

The best part is you can choose the language yourself - Swahili, Shona etc.

Vambo AI

For millions of Africans who couldn’t access AI before now, this is a way in.

But Vambo AI isn’t Africa’s first rodeo in AI - we’ve been a part of the game from the start.

The Context

While the most popular AI systems today were built in the US, Africans were a huge part of bringing them to life.

Last year, news broke that OpenAI had hired Kenyan annotators for $2 a day to label the data used in training their models.

But that’s not all.

Nigerians and Kenyans were used to fine-tune the articles produced by OpenAI’s model.

These people rated articles produced by ChatGPT for a few bucks each.

The result?

Articles that sounded “African” just ended up with better ratings.

This is how words like “delve” became a core part of AI vocabulary.

Beyond helping build chatbots that spark online controversy, Africans are solving real problems on the continent with AI:

  • Intron Health helps doctors understand 200+ different patient languages using AI.

  • Foondamate is helping African students learn better using AI.

  • And Pindo AI allows African businesses to do customer service in local languages using AI.

And they’re quickly gaining ground globally.

Foondamate now has millions of users and is popular in other continents like South America.

Intron Health has expanded to 42 countries including the US, Australia and the UK.

And Instadeep, one of the pioneers of AI, sold for $600 million last year.

Something huge is brewing in the African AI space, and it’s starting to get attention.

The Tech Safari Take

It’s still early days, but Africa is taking ownership of its AI future.

An AI wave is shaping up on the continent - with over 200 companies and counting.

And this venture fund wants to help them go global.

Resilience17 started out seeding fintech and SaaS companies across Africa.

The fund was started by Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave’s CEO, but run by Hasan Luongo, who spent the last 15 years growing startups across the globe.

Resilience has funded 60+ startups to date - companies like Klasha, LemFi, Lipa Later, and AltSchool.

But now, they’re seeing a pattern:

  • Scaling is a problem for many African startups.

  • AI can help them scale faster with fewer resources.

  • Africa’s AI opportunity is massive - $1.5 trillion by 2030.

So, Resilience17 is betting on the AI trend.

But here’s the thing: funding is the last thing AI startups lack globally.

They need engineering, better data, and a path from tech to a thriving business.

So instead, Resilience17 is launching Go Time AI - an accelerator to help African AI startups get off the ground through hands-on support.

With Go Time AI, Resilience17 will:

  • Fund early-stage AI startups with up to $200,000 in exchange for 8% equity

  • Help them get to product-market fit.

  • Provide them with resources like GPUs, cloud space, and expert support.

Think YC for African AI startups.

And they’re eyeing the big leagues, focused on startups like Intron Health and Foondamate building from Africa with a global vision.

The accelerator is timely, as more startups shift their focus from solely serving local markets to global expansion.

And many budding African startups will fit the bill once the accelerator goes live.

An example is Tappi, which helps small businesses figure out marketing using AI.

With the AI wave growing steadily on the continent, Go Time is well-positioned to fund the winners.

Will there be home runs? Time will tell.

But whatever the outcome, Africa might get its own YC for AI startups - and that’s a win.

What other funds and companies have you seen doing cool stuff in African AI?

Hit reply and let us know.

Tech Safari Finds

💸 Curious about the history of VC money in Africa? Read this.

🤯 Watch the CEOs of three huge neobanks in Africa discuss competition.

 💡 Want to learn more stuff about Africa’s AI opportunity? Read this.

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