Recently Strive Masiyiwa, through his Facebook page has been focusing on a series of posts he titled ‘The skills of the future’. He strongly believes that AI is the biggest technology we’ve ever had far eclipsing all other technologies combined. I do concur with this especially considering that most of us nowadays use AI-driven gadgets or applications daily without even sparing a thought on how it all works. Appending human-like intelligence into mechanical or computer systems is my most basic definition of Artificial Intelligence. This is achieved by the use of complex algorithms that enable the systems to process, learn & structure or act on data intelligently.  He also points out something regarding the widespread notion that AI shall take-over human jobs. He considers this nonsense and unworthy of due attention. AI is and will continue to create new jobs and I even think it also enhances the productivity of and realigns some of the current jobs.

AI Is A Huge Deal

Global tech giants such as Facebook, Google or Microsoft are investing heavily in AI. By 2030 it’s projected that AI will be a global industry worth at least USD10 trillion. Other studies have discovered that over 80% of businesses regard AI as a key driver of their competitive edge over other businesses. Strive’s focus on the subject of AI shows that he appreciates that it’s now a big deal. He actually makes that clear by emphasizing that when he focuses on any particular subject it’s because he’s bent on helping the African continent. He also gave reference to Kai Fu Lee, a Chinese techpreneur and venture capitalist (VC). Mr Lee said something striking by underscoring that AI would change the world more than anything even more than electricity ever did. The fact that in the USA AI has recently been mostly featured on top news programs also gives traction to how much of a big deal it now is.

Muzinda Hub

This is an incubator initiative developed to equip and prepare young people for AI since it’s the future. This incubator was started by Econet in 2014 and is now in at least 20 African countries reaching over 40 000 students online. Without delving much into Muzinda Hub the point to draw from this is the immense importance of incubators and/or accelerators. If the young people on the continent are to be properly equipped for AI then there’s a need for more and more initiatives like Muzinda Hub. Essentially this will prepare young people for jobs and businesses of the future.

Businesses Must Position Themselves Wisely

According to Strive’s reference to Muzinda Hub he also points out something pertinent – the need for businesses to digitize in synch with future trends. Some of the products of the initiative have helped small businesses with web design, web and mobile app design. Those are critically important elements for any business looking to score big with AI. Any business must appreciate that business dynamics require one to operate online (i.e. on the internet). Rules of engagement online are different and calls on one to get an understanding of AI. He also gave some suggestions on key areas one should study up on namely, deep learning, machine learning, the importance of high-quality data and the field of data sciences. He underscored the need to not entertain excuses for not having access to educational tools; take online courses (there are plenty of those on the internet). He also made a clarion call on everyone from individuals to parents, entrepreneurs and policymakers to research more on AI so that there’s a widespread paradigm shift in people’s mindsets. Here’s the beautiful thing about AI, you don’t necessarily have to change your business area – AI is impacting all business areas. He also discusses something of importance when he points out that you might not necessarily have to code AI algorithms. Understandably that can be too complex for most but he encourages you to stay close to the action. By so doing you’ll be privy to the developments and in the process, an opening could present itself for you. When computer hardware and software started creating a disruptive tech industry it’s not everyone who started businesses based on those two direct aspects. Most developed businesses from other related elements and the same goes for AI so just keep your eyes and ears open.

A Keynote To Africa

Strive cites the examples of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as businesses that created an industry that never existed before. These businesses went on to unlock and contribute billions into the global GDP. He, however, laments the approach Africa chose to take in response to these global innovations – the continent joined as consumers. The downside of that is that it didn’t ultimately enhance the GDP of African countries. He suggests that it would have been more expedient to develop services using those platforms or fast follow them to have our own home-grown platforms. He wonders why we never replied to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So he is now calling upon us to not let the same thing happen again with AI. AI shall give rise to businesses bigger than entire economies – so let’s act swiftly and not repeat past mistakes. Econet, Ecocash and Vaya are all examples of his businesses that came about from fast following other businesses elsewhere. He even underpins a statement where he says, ‘the entrepreneur doesn’t position to consume but to fast follow’.

AI has a potent capacity to revolutionize every activity on this planet. So it’s crucial that you get an understanding of what it’s about because therein lies the secrets to making money in business nowadays. The sooner you know the better to act! He hinges this principle on a quote from William Goldsmith (the first British billionaire), ‘if you see a bandwagon, it’s already too late’. He says on AI we still have time but we shouldn’t wait too long or it could get too late.