Serious Research And Development On Artificial Intelligence Is Happening In Ethiopia

By: Erick Vateta


Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing because human beings want most of their thinking done by machines. Ethiopia known for its strong army and beautiful women, but the country is also a home of innovators. The country has placed much emphasis on computer science. However, as the country celebrates their achievement in tech, an artificial intelligence R&D caught fire in Addis Ababa.

The country has many universities and polytechnics that place high emphasis on technology. Over 30 official universities and 130 polytechnics have tech related units. Ministry of Science and Technology established its own university and a $250 million dollar tech park in 2012. Techonomy reports that about 2% of its citizens can access the internet, 4% of Ethiopian children get as far as the equivalent of 9th grade, child labor is at 27% and early marriages is 41%.

The country has an Artificial Intelligence group called, iCogLabs which was co-founded in 2012 by Getnet Aseffa Gezaw, and an American AI pioneer, Ben Goertzel. The lab has twenty five software engineers who work together to make computers that can potentially emulate the entire human brain. The lab has a mission to create software that foresee all the brain activities. The lab also focuses on a host of practical applications for clients around the world, including humanoid robots for Hanson Robotics, makers of the renowned Robot Einstein; AI-driven automated pill dispensers and elder-care robots for a Chinese company, Telehealth; and mapping the genetics of longevity for two Californian corporations: Age Reversal Incorporated and Stevia First. iCog also delves into ‘deep learning’ algorithms for vision processing and object recognition, machine learning algorithms to predict patterns in everything from agriculture to electricity consumption, and algorithms that react to English and a host of African languages.

iCog has a number of projects that help communities have a better life. They have developed a software for AI tablets for children. The tablets are distributed to Ethiopian villages and have games that help children teach themselves elementary coding, mathematics and English. The initiative has helped many children learn computer programs in their native languages.

Ethiopian government has adopted algorithmic and robotics intelligence in most of its industrial projects. The government has a five year developmental project called Growth and Transformation Plan. The plan will be improvised by the evolving tech in the country. The country has a number of well wishers like China who support the country in maintaining some of its projects.

-From the editors of

This Article was originally published on Kenya Tech News on 8, September, 2015

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