Johannesburg city, South Africa (Image: British Airways website)
Recently announced research by the AI Media Group, Cape Town, South Africa, points towards Johannesburg fast becoming the continents Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tech Capital of Africa
Launched in early 2018 the AI Media Group set out to create a new hybrid analysis, trade & advisory operation to build one of the largest communities of technology practitioners discussing the application of AI/4IR technologies in a business context on the African continent.
Dr Nick Bradshaw, Founder and CEO of AI Media stated, “One of our key goals was to assess and showcase the growing emerging market opportunity in the Africa region for this particular technology category. When we started this journey there was literally zero, or at best, fragmented data on the companies and people driving this sector in Africa. Over the last two years we have been building a much more detailed picture analyzing organizations that are active (or seeking to be active) in the African AI/4IR tech ecosystem both locally, regionally and globally. Our analysis encompassed commercial and non-commercial entities and we also looked at No. Employees, Industry, HQ City, Country, Sector, Year Founded and Specialization.”
Some clear trends are now emerging with some top-level insights summarized below.
- 1500+ companies were analyzed to establish a baseline data set
- 1389 companies had consistent data, of which 826 (60%) are based / head quartered in Africa
- 74% of these are based in South Africa, 6% Tunisia 6% Nigeria 3% Kenya 2% Egypt 2% Ghana
- 18 other countries make up the remaining 7%
- Focusing on those based in South Africa, 67% are based in the city regions of Johannesburg and Pretoria while Cape Town accounts for 29%
- 62% of all African companies active in the region are privately held
- The vast majority (50%) having less than 20 employees.
- Based on year founded, the last 5 years have seen a significant rise in the number of companies active in this sector, most likely due to the combined effects of; available funding, lower start-up costs, cloud / compute and open-source resource availability and increased commercial demand in multiple market verticals.
Figure – Artificial intelligence business distribution in Africa by the AI Media Group
- The top 5 most “active” countries are South Africa, Tunisia, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt – this broadly maps to the top tech investment hubs in the region as indicated by analysts such as Maxime Bayen & Max Cuvellier.
- We have a growing and dynamic AI / 4IR tech ecosystem in Africa with South Africa accounting for the most frequent country of origin for companies in this sector.
- Johannesburg and the wider Gauteng region encompassing Pretoria appears to be the No.1 contender for the “AI Tech Capital of Africa” based on the organizations we have assessed so far which may (in part) be explained by greater B2B economic demand for such products and services, a mature tech entrepreneur / supplier ecosystem and commensurate skills and job opportunities with both buyer and supplier side entities.
Bradshaw concluded, “A large vendor and partner ecosystem built around the likes of Microsoft, Google, AWS, IBM, Intel, Oracle & SAP who have historically had a significant operational footprint in South Africa may also account for the landscape we currently see. This is by no means an exhaustive survey and the data is continually changing and evolving. If you want to learn more about our analysis, we will be presenting our findings at AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE that will run as a three-day LIVE event 7-9 September.”
Delegates wishing to join this event can sign up for a FREE here https://aiexpoafrica.com/registration/ to hear from 80+ speakers / 40+ hours of talks via a 4 track speaking programme covering; innovation & strategy, platforms & process, case studies and technology demos. Show highlights will include;
- Plenary Keynote from AI4Good Summit founder Stephen Ibaraki
- Plenary Keynote from AICE Africa founder John Kamara
- Keynotes from our event partners NVIDIA, Intel & Telkom / BCX
- National AI Strategy updates from Kenya, Tunisia, Brazil & USA
- The story of creating Amazon’s Alexa by Al Lindsay
- 50+ vendors in the virtual Expo Hall with live meeting functionality
- Live networking lounge, meet -ups & business card swap
- Embassy of Switzerland SA e-Pavilion
- Tshwane Economic Development Agency Destination e-Pavilion
- Academic R&D posters located at the Telkom Innovation Wall
- Get inspired to create art, music and new media in the NVIDIA AI Art Gallery
- FREE resource centre with unique content, programmes & learning materials
Learn more at www.aiexpoafrica.com
Electric Vehicles and the Future of Service Stations
Electric cars have been gaining popularity in recent years as a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. As more and more people make the switch to electric cars, it raises the question of what the future holds for gas stations. In this blog post, we will explore the potential impact of electric cars on gas stations and how they might evolve to meet the changing needs of consumers.
Electric cars have come a long way since their inception, with advancements in technology and infrastructure making them more accessible and practical for everyday use. With zero tailpipe emissions and lower operating costs, electric cars offer a greener and more economical transportation solution. As a result, the demand for electric vehicles has been steadily increasing, leading to a surge in sales and production.
Challenges for Gas Stations
As the number of electric cars on the road continues to grow, gas stations may face some significant challenges. With fewer customers needing traditional fuel, gas stations may experience a decline in revenue. Additionally, the need for charging infrastructure will become more prevalent, requiring gas stations to adapt and invest in electric vehicle charging stations.
To stay relevant in the era of electric cars, gas stations will need to undergo a transformation. They can consider incorporating electric vehicle charging stations alongside traditional fuel pumps. This diversification will allow gas stations to cater to both electric and gasoline-powered vehicles, ensuring they remain a convenient stop for all types of motorists.
One of the key factors in the success of electric cars is the availability of charging infrastructure. Gas stations can play a crucial role in this by installing fast-charging stations that can replenish an electric car’s battery in a matter of minutes. This will encourage more people to adopt electric cars, knowing that they can easily find a charging station on their journeys.
Gas stations can also explore partnerships with automakers to provide exclusive charging services for their electric vehicle customers. By teaming up with manufacturers, gas stations can offer branded charging stations and loyalty programs, creating a unique selling point that sets them apart from competitors.
As the demand for traditional fuel decreases, gas stations can consider diversifying their offerings by providing additional services. This could include amenities such as electric vehicle maintenance, battery swapping, or even hosting electric car events. By embracing the electric vehicle market, gas stations can adapt and thrive in the changing automotive landscape.
The rise of electric cars presents both challenges and opportunities for gas stations. While the need for traditional fuel may decline, the demand for charging infrastructure is on the rise. By adapting their business models, investing in charging infrastructure, and exploring partnerships with automakers, gas stations can play a vital role in supporting the transition to electric vehicles. The future of gas stations may look different, but with innovation and forward-thinking, they can remain an essential part of our transportation infrastructure.
PHD Media Unveils Ocular, Research Tool for Real-Time Data Analysis
PHD Media, one of the world’s fastest growing media and communication agency networks, and part of the Omnicom Media Group has launched an innovative proprietary cloud-based media data tool, Ocular, that answers age-long questions that clients have asked around the recency of the data used in the industry.
Ocular, the result of two years of continuous research aimed at closing some of the gaps that exists within the current industry tool, with unparalleled features that surpass what already exists within the sector, was launched at a well-attended stakeholder’s event at the Lagos Marriott Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday, 7 November 2023.
The Managing Director of PHD Media, Mr. Dozie Okafor, said with Ocular, powered by 2,800 active respondents surveyed daily, businesses can glean insights into consumer habits and lots more to help make better decisions for their marketing activities. He said Ocular is designed to be a seamless tool such that it is accessible on devices and smartphones, with the ability to collect responses from respondents using Short Message Service (SMS), Mobile web and APP.
Okafor stated that surveys currently cover seven key markets with an ongoing commitment to quickly scale this up to include more markets over the coming months as subscriptions increase.
On the unique features, the PHD Media honcho explained that a client can deploy custom surveys relating to its business anytime on the platform, and can analyse not just the product/services, but can leverage the deep insights on the platform to also look into consumer habits.
“Parameters like social media and internet, video-on-demand, and any new trend can be added to it. There are also bespoke capabilities to enable clients to conduct focus groups, dipstick research, as well as other services relating to their businesses, and quickly,” he explained.
Features available in the cutting-edge solution which are currently in others include audience demographics, audience profiling, psychographic analysis, product usage and consumption analysis, and media consumption habit analysis.The different features are real-time data, bespoke surveys, qualitative audience surveys, brand health checks, ad (asset) testing, and Client access to a real-time dashboard.
On her part, the Research Lead at PHD Media, Mrs. Cornelia Babatunde, pointed out that clients can conduct pre-campaign, during-campaign, and post-campaign surveys with Ocular, likewise dive deeper into an understanding of consumer behaviour using the Market Research Online Community (MROC) feature.
Also, at the launch were panel discussions involving the Digital and Media Manager West Africa, Pernod Ricard, Ojie Arthur Ehianeta; Marketing Lead Nigeria, Lipton Tea and Infusions, Motunrayo Babalola; Head of Marketing, Kingmakers, Oludare Kafar; Media Manager, West Africa, Unilever Nigeria, Oge Maduagwu; and Head of Marketing, HPZ – Haier Thermocool, James Odejimi; who stated that the introduction of Ocular was timely, as it encompasses the data required by companies to improve their business advantageously.
According to Motunrayo Babalola, data helps in understanding, planning, and evaluating issues relating to the implementation of set objectives. Ojie Arthur Ehianeta said PHD is in the right direction with Ocular and that if the data is gotten right, Ocular should be extended to the rest of the industry and not just be a PHD tool; while Oludare Kafar stated that data helps in making informed decisions and enables the benefits of investments. James Odejimi averred “Data gives us insights into what we do.” Others affirmed that real-time data is crucial for the growth of any sector, and they all applauded PHD Media for the novel innovation embedded in Ocular.
PHD is known globally as an innovator in communications planning and buying across broadcast, print, digital, mobile, social, and emerging media. PHD’s performance at the 2023 Pitcher Awards is evidence of the agency’s outstanding commitment for strategic planning and innovation, having secured an impressive tally of ten awards.
The Gig Economy Today: Leveraging Blockchain and AI
The gig economy, characterised by short-term contracts and freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs, has seen explosive growth facilitated by technological advances. In particular, two technological juggernauts – blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are reshaping how gig work functions, promising a more efficient, secure, and equitable marketplace. This fusion could not only redefine how we work but also lay new groundwork for the future digital economy.
The Gig Economy Today: A Landscape Ripe for Revolution
Traditionally, the gig economy has hinged on platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and Fiverr, which connect freelancers with opportunities. Despite their popularity, these platforms often face criticism over high fees, payment security, and opaque dispute resolution processes. This is where AI and blockchain step in as game-changers.
Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, offers decentralised and secure ledger systems. For the gig economy, this means several transformative changes:
- Direct, Secure Payments: By using cryptocurrencies for transactions, payments can be processed without the need for traditional banking, reducing fees and increasing security. Smart contracts – self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into lines of code – ensure automatic and conditional payments, dependent on the fulfilment of agreed-upon work, reducing the scope of disputes and delays.
- Transparent Work Histories: Blockchain can provide a transparent, unchangeable record of a freelancer’s work history and reviews. Unlike current platforms where profiles can be manipulated, blockchain’s immutable records ensure reliability and authenticity, helping employers to hire with confidence.
- Decentralization and Ownership: By decentralizing the marketplace, blockchain takes power away from centralized platforms, reducing unfair censorship or control. It also hands back ownership of personal data to the individuals, aligning with growing demands for data privacy and control.
AI’s role in revolutionizing the gig economy is no less impactful, particularly in personalized job matching and enhancing work efficiency:
- Personalized Job Matching: AI algorithms can analyze a freelancer’s skills, work history, and preferences to match them with the best-suited gigs. Unlike traditional methods, this reduces the time spent searching for and applying to irrelevant jobs, increasing efficiency and job satisfaction.
- Enhanced Productivity Tools: AI-powered tools help freelancers manage tasks, track time, and optimize their workflow, effectively increasing their productivity. Predictive analytics can help in forecasting workload and income, aiding better financial and time management.
- Dynamic Pricing Models: AI can analyze market rates, skill demand, and job complexity to suggest dynamic pricing, helping freelancers in setting competitive yet fair rates for their services.
The integration of blockchain and AI in the gig economy isn’t just a futuristic concept; it’s already underway. Companies like Upwork and Freelancer.com are exploring blockchain for secure transactions and reputation management, while AI continues to refine the art of job matching on these platforms.
However, challenges remain, including the digital divide, the need for robust AI ethics, and the energy consumption concerns associated with blockchain technologies. Tackling these will require concerted efforts from tech developers, policy makers, and the freelance community itself.
As we step into this new era of gig work, blockchain and AI stand as pillars that promise to build a more transparent, fair, and efficient marketplace. Their convergence could well redefine not just how we work or get paid, but also how trust and reputation are built in the digital freelance economy. The future of work in the gig economy, powered by these technologies, looks not only promising but also excitingly inclusive, bringing us closer to a world where work is more about talent and merit, less about control and intermediaries.