The South African Artificial Intelligence Industry Association launches in Cape Town

The South African Artificial Intelligence Industry Association launches in Cape Town
The South African Artificial Intelligence Industry Association launches in Cape Town

An industry body focused on promoting the advancement of responsible AI in South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa, August 31, 2023: The South African Artificial Intelligence Association (SAAIA), an industry body focused on promoting the advancement of responsible AI in South Africa, will be officially launched in Cape Town in partnership with Wesgro.

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: “The current debate on the use of artificial intelligence reveals both the challenges and opportunities as well as possible harms that AI and related smart technologies could herald for both citizens, companies, and the wider economy.”

“Our research has shown that AI and related automation technologies are currently impacting 120+ traditional industries globally while creating a need for learning and change in a timescale never seen before.  The speed of this disruption is faster than any other industrial revolution that has gone before it. As such, SAAIA seeks to encourage stakeholders in the adoption of responsible AI for commercial and societal benefit with a primary focus on regulation, economic growth, trade, investment, fairness, equality, and inclusivity,” he continues.

The SAAIA mission is to engage both individuals and organisations, novices and experts, those who are connected and those who are not connected, so no one is left behind. It is of vital importance that the opportunities artificial intelligence presents are possible and available for everyone to embrace, not just a select few. Therefore, the SAAIA mission is underpinned by ten key objectives:

  • Serve as the voice of the industry
  • Provide analysis and research to inform strategy and decision-making.
  • Assist national, provincial, and local governments with policymaking.
  • Unite buyers and suppliers to grow the economy.
  • Connect SMMEs to funding to create new companies and jobs.
  • Attract foreign direct investment to South Africa as the “4IR gateway” to Africa.
  • Assist African smart tech companies to access international markets.
  • Showcase the best of South African AI innovation and research.
  • Promote debate on inclusion, ethics, regulation, and standards.
  • Share best practices and education resources for all

The founding partners and advisory board members are drawn from across multiple domains and are passionate about the adoption of responsible AI. These include the national Department of Communication and Digital Technologies (DCDT); the AI Institute of South Africa; Tshwane University of Technology; University of Johannesburg; Google; Western Cape Government; Gauteng Tourism Authority; MICT SETA; Anza Capital; Michalsons; GIZ;; ExploreAI; Cirrus AI; TinyML Foundation; Augmented Startups; Data Economy Policy Hub; Socially Acceptable; mLab; Zindi; the Technology Innovation Agency; ecosystem.Ai and Webber Wentzel.

Ahead of the Cape Town launch, Alan Winde, the Premier of the Western Cape, stated, “AI can be a force for good, but it’s also key that we understand its strengths and shortcomings and plan appropriately for its impact, both positive and negative.  If positively harnessed and used in the best interests of our citizens, AI offers numerous opportunities for spurring economic growth. Our province has always been a leading tech hub for new technology innovations and start-ups, and we have a healthy ecosystem of innovators focused on AI and related smart technologies. We see the launch of the SA AI Association as a key development for our ecosystem, both for the province and South Africa, and we look forward to engaging in the forthcoming debate during the launch event being hosted by Wesgro.”

“Home to one of the top 10 largest tech investors in the world, Naspers, the Western Cape technology sector comprises a thriving digital economy that extends from Cape Town to Stellenbosch and across the province. Mainstream adoption of AI means new opportunities for start-ups and related investment, with Cape Town well positioned to capitalise on this catalytic sector. We look forward to collaborating with the South African AI Association members and working together to promote collaboration across the destination’s premium tech ecosystem,” concluded Wesgro CEO Wrenelle Stander.

The event kicks off in Cape Town on August 31, 2023.

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