Africa, a continent with an extremely young population (average age 19.5 years) whose population growth is increasing, feels the need to try on some increasingly innovative methods to address the biggest concerns of its population. Here, we are talking about the urgent need for a continent that could double its population by 2050 and by 2100 serve as home to the world's three largest cities: Lagos, Nigeria, with 88 million inhabitants, Kinshasa, Democratic Congo, with 83 million inhabitants and lastly Dar El Salaam, Tanzania with 73 million. And if we want to add Luanda, Angola, to this equation, we have 28 million city dwellers - but a small territory.
Given these data and arising needs from the demographic growth in Africa, what countries like Angola can do to keep up with development race?
Shall we start with Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Well, at first the first idea that might come to place is a group of robots trying to dominate the human species just like in science fiction movies. However, AI goes beyond robots. AI science is seen applied in self-driven cars, virtual devices for medical assistance, monitoring of agriculture and biodiversity, mobile technology, among many others such as the use of satellites that can help our decision makers dealing better with problems such as famine, drought and climate change. The list is extensive as well as the benefits.
Applying Artificial Intelligence in Angola, we could, perhaps, work faster, offering more innovative solutions in education, governance, health, urbanization and any other sector that needs a different approach tackling its main issues. Drought in the southern region of Angola, for instance, is an issue where AI based new solutions could be applied. So, according to experts, cloud computing technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) take the lead in this scenario. How does it work? Firstly, data is received and analyzed by an integrated AI algorithms system and machine learning, which allows us to formulate solutions faster than usual. Looking at the urgent challenges of climate-related risks in Rwanda and the region, as well as the need for more accurate climate and meteorological data and information, Meteo , UNDP Rwanda and Tokyo University were at the forefront of the IoT pilot project test for a similar problem. This test was about receiving early climate alerts to test new ways of collecting microclimate data in real time. This pilot project selected one of the districts in the country exposed to severe drought and high-risk agriculture, where real-time data has been translated into usable and accessible information so that is was possible to solve the problem.
In general, AI solutions are, perhaps, capable of offering better efficiency when coming to detect consumption patterns and make more accurate predictions. In other words, we are seeing these new technologies can allow us to make decisions to increase agricultural production as well as anticipate the consequences of climate change. So, artificial intelligence can be considered as an important tool for the future of agriculture, accelerating sustainable progress in tackling their greatest challenges such as desertification.
On the other hand, now, more than ever it is clear that we are living in a very digital world, that includes virtual communities and jobs. In Angola, a country where access to mobile data was introduced quite recently, more than 6 million people have internet access throughout the national territory. Taking advantage of these growing numbers, we dare to say that it offers the country an opportunity to develop and invest more on digital based tools to tackle the great challenges the country is facing. Not all, but some.