Agriculture takes lead in adopting AI in Kenya

April 18, 2019
The latest Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR) says that while globally agricultural insurance is a US$2 billion business, Africa accounts for less than two percent of the market/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 18 – Agriculture is slated to take the lead in the adoption of Artificial Intelligence with farmers increasingly now using technology to monitor plant, soil and weather conditions.

Speaking during the launch of ‘AI for Good’ at Strathmore University, Microsoft East Africa Manager Sebu Haileleul said there is a large pool of workforce and farmers in the agriculture sector but AI can also be adapted in other industry.

“The agriculture sector contributes a lot towards the country economy but certainly AI is not only applicable to the agriculture sector but can be adopted in other industries,” said Haieleleul.

Currently, farmers have adapted some applications where they can use to access loans from banks.

According to Microsoft East Africa government Affairs Director Christopher Akiwumi, the AI adoption process has made it easier for farmers to stimulate their growth through easy and quick Access of loans from various government institutions.

However, there is a need to support and raise the skills gap in the wake of the adoption of AI and different technologies in the coming years.

Already, the adoption of AI has spurred mixed emotions in different sectors with fear of majority becoming jobless.

Akiwumi added that there is a lot that AI does that does not necessarily touch on jobs.

“Look at the agriculture and other sectors like health. It enhances capability and it has numerous advantages that will actually lead to the growth of the economy,” he said.

Akiwumi said the sector has however faced a challenge in slow adoption of the AI system.

“We need more developers, software engineers and the challenge is that we are no finding them enough not only in Kenya but across the globe.”

According to a whitepaper published by Access Partnership, commissioned by Microsoft, entitled ‘Artificial Intelligence for Africa’, AI presents a crucial and important opportunity for the continent.

If governments can successfully steer the challenges presented, AI can be a driver of growth, development, and democratization.

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