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In Code We Trust: How Generative AI Seeds Growth in Nigeria and Beyond

Written by Dave Richards
June 30, 2023

In the swiftly evolving landscape of the digital age, a potent force emerges in the Global South, ready to push past traditional boundaries and sow the seeds of innovation across various sectors. That force is Generative AI (GenAI), and it stands to transform the future of Sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria poised as the region’s flagship AI standard-bearer.

Sub-Saharan Africa has a track record of “leapfrogging” conventional development hurdles through technological innovation. The rise of mobile money services, for instance, has circumvented the limitations of traditional banking systems. GenAI, with its potential to further democratize access to finance, mirrors this trajectory. From microfinance loans to insurtech, AI can render complex risk-assessment models inclusive, amplifying financial inclusion, and potentially boosting the region’s GDP by an astonishing 1.5% over the next decade.

In the realm of mobility and logistics, AI’s prospects shine even brighter. Nigeria’s bustling cities and sprawling rural areas present a distinct logistical conundrum, one that AI-guided autonomous vehicles and intelligent traffic management systems could solve, contributing up to 3% to GDP by 2030.

The potential boon for agriculture, a sector deeply ingrained in Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic fabric, is equally transformative. AI can provide farmers with a predictive analysis of pest outbreaks, optimal times for sowing and reaping, and efficient water and fertilizer usage guidelines. With these AI-driven interventions, we could see agricultural productivity rise by a staggering 30%, in turn, bolstering incomes, and catalyzing the growth of a vibrant middle class.

Capria - themadpaintr Nigerian farmer using ai on tablet to understand s 06c92575 46d9 4109 9c39 51a79a85813a min

Why does Sub-Saharan Africa, and Nigeria in particular, provide such a fertile ground for this AI revolution? A thriving youth population, digitally native and ready to embrace AI innovations, offers a unique advantage. Coupled with this demographic dividend, the potential of AI to address a range of pressing local issues, from the enhancement of healthcare services to improved environmental management, makes it an attractive solution.

However, for GenAI to fully flourish, concerted investments and strategic policies are essential. A robust digital infrastructure is the first pillar, building on the rise of smartphone usage in the region.

Secondly, nurturing home-grown AI talent and supporting tech start-ups will foster an indigenous AI ecosystem. Recent AI initiatives launched in Nigeria, such as AI training hubs, reflect the importance of these efforts. Lastly, a solid regulatory framework, which balances data privacy with innovation and ensures the equitable application of AI, is needed.

In summary, the promise of Generative AI in the Global South, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria, holds the power to redefine the contours of growth and social development. Like the mighty Niger River that nurtures the lands of Nigeria, the current of GenAI, if harnessed correctly, has the potential to cultivate an unprecedented era of prosperity.


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Unitus Ventures, a leading venture capital firm in India, is joining forces with its US affiliate Capria Ventures, a Global South specialist, to operate with a unified global strategy under a single brand, Capria Ventures.