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 partnership with the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), one of the AI Institute of South Africa Hubs, on July 19, 2023.
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: “From hype to a global reality, the SAAIA vision has been shaped by analysing the global and local landscape, identifying needs and filling the blanks with research. This has revealed both the challenges and opportunities AI and related smart technologies can bring to South Africa for both citizens and the wider economy.”
“Our research has shown that AI and related automation technologies are currently impacting 120+ traditional industries globally, while creating new opportunities and challenges in timescales 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. 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 & local governments with policy making
- 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 practice 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; Izwe.ai; ExploreAI; Cirrus AI; TinyML Foundation; Augmented Startups; Data Economy Policy Hub; Socially Acceptable; mLab; Zindi; the Technology Innovation Agency; ecosystem.Ai, and Webber Wentzel.
Prof Anish Kurien, the Acting Director of the TUT AI Hub says that the launch of SAAIA comes at an opportune time. “The DCDT launched the AI Institute and its first AI Hub at the University of Johannesburg on 30 November last year, followed by the TUT AI Hub on 24 March 2023. The AI Institute’s mandate is to ensure that its developments take advantage of the emerging digital technologies at a global scale. The recommendations made in setting up the AI Institute highlight the need for research and development to be conducted such that it contributes to the development needs of the country.
“Further, the recommendations that have been highlighted state that the establishment of the AI Institute should focus on the training of society in AI-based technologies and hinge on creating a positive social impact. This cannot be achieved unless the various stakeholders work together in achieving this common goal of creating greater impact on society through the ‘ethical’ use of AI. TUT is proud to be partnering with AI Media in hosting the launch of the AI Association,” he says.
Individual membership is free and members of SAAIA gain access to resources, insights and news throughout the year. Members also receive discounts to join the association’s annual event, AI Expo Africa, which this year is being held in Johannesburg from 2-3 November at the Sandton Convention Centre.