South African Artificial Intelligence Industry Association Launches in Cape Town

The South African Artificial Intelligence Association (SAAIA), an industry body focused on promoting the advancement of responsible AI in South Africa, will officially be 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, says “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 not connected, so no one is left behind.  It is of vital importance that the opportunities Artificial Intelligence present are possible and available for everyone to embrace -not just a select few.

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 said, “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 in spurring on 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 31st August 2023.

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