South Africa, known for its burgeoning technological landscape, is taking a significant step towards embracing the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). The South African Artificial Intelligence Association (SAAIA) will be officially launched on July 19, 2023, in partnership with the esteemed Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), a prominent hub for AI innovation in South Africa.
The association’s mission is to engage individuals and organizations, provide research and analysis to inform decision-making, assist with policy-making, connect buyers and suppliers, support SMMEs, attract foreign investment, help African tech companies access international markets, showcase AI innovation and research, facilitate debate on ethics and regulation, and share best practices and educational resources.
SAAIA seeks to encourage stakeholders to adopt responsible AI for the commercial and societal beneﬁt of the citizens of South Africa with a primary focus on economic growth, trade, investment, equality and inclusivity by uniting practitioners across commercial, government, academic, start-up and NGO sectors.
Dr Nick Bradshaw, the founder of SAAIA, states: “From hype to a global reality, the SAAIA vision has been shaped by analyzing the global and local landscape, identifying needs and filling the blanks with research. This has revealed both the challenges and opportunities AI and related smart technologies can bring to South Africa for both citizens and the wider economy.”
The launch of SAAIA aligns perfectly with the current landscape, as affirmed by Prof Anish Kurien, the Acting Director of the TUT AI Hub. The AI Institute, launched by the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies (DCDT), has already established two AI Hubs one at the University of Johannesburg and another at TUT. These initiatives aim to capitalize on emerging digital technologies on a global scale, emphasizing the need for research and development that caters to the country’s development needs.