South African AI industry association launches

An industry body focused on promoting the advancement of responsible artificial intelligence (AI) in the commercial, government, academic, startup and NGO sectors is launching later this month.

The South African Artificial Intelligence Association (SAAIA) will encourage stakeholders to adopt AI for the commercial and societal benefit of the country’s citizens — with a primary focus on economic growth, trade, investment, equality and inclusivity.

The association’s Founding Advisory Board members include major law firms Michalsons and Webber Wentzel, the Western Cape Government, Tshwane University of Technology, the Technology Innovation Agency, and several AI startups.

SAAIA is the brainchild of AI Media Africa co-founder Dr Nick Bradshaw, who has 25 years of experience in enterprise collaboration software and cloud platforms.

Founded in 2017, AI Media Africa curates AI Expo Africa, and AI and data science magazine Synapse.

Bradshaw said AI Media Africa’s research had shown AI and related automation technologies impacted over 120 traditional industries globally and created new opportunities and challenges in a time scale “never seen before”.

“The speed of this disruption is faster than any other industrial revolution that has gone before it,” Bradshaw stated.

“SAAIA seeks to encourage stakeholders in the adoption of responsible AI for the commercial and societal benefit of the citizens of South Africa with a primary focus on regulation, economic growth, trade, investment, fairness, equality and inclusivity.”

The list of SAAIA Advisory Board founding members is as follows:

  • Augmented Startups
  • Cirrus AI
  • Data Economy Policy Hub (DepHUB)
  • ecosystem.Ai
  • ExploreAI
  • GIZ
  • Michalsons
  • mLab
  • Socially Acceptable
  • Technology Innovation Agency
  • TinyML Foundation
  • Tshwane University of Technology
  • Webber Wentzel
  • Western Cape Government
  • Zindi

SAAIA said its vision was to be evidence-based with responsible, human-centric AI at its foundation.

“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,” the association said.

“It is of vital importance that the opportunities Artificial Intelligence presents are possible and available for everyone to embrace.”

It highlighted ten key objects to achieve its mission and vision:

  1. Serve as the voice of the industry
  2. Provide analysis & research to inform strategy & decision making
  3. Help National, Provincial & City Governments with policy making
  4. Unite buyers and suppliers to grow the economy
  5. Connect small, medium, and micro enterprises to funding to create new companies and  jobs
  6. Attract foreign direct investment to South Africa as the “4IR gateway” to Africa
  7. Help African smart tech companies find markets abroad
  8. Showcase the best of South African AI Innovation & Research
  9. Promote debate on inclusion, ethics, regulation & standards
  10. Share best practices and education resources

Individual SAAIA membership is free and will provide access to resources, insights and news throughout the year.

Members will also receive a discount on tickets to the AI Expo, scheduled to take place in Johannesburg in November.

SAAIA’s formal launch event and roadshow series will kick off in Pretoria on 19 July 2023.

Now read: AI poses “risk of extinction” similar to nuclear war — experts

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South African AI industry association launches