In an era where technological advancement is dominating, the fusion of human intelligence and artificial intelligence has become a driving force behind innovation.
To foster collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and networking within the rapidly growing community of AI professionals, eMobilis, one of the Ajira Digital program partners, organized first ever artificial intelligence workers’ meetup under the theme “AIforAll” in Nairobi to share their experiences within the gig and digital economy.
The convergence of over 60 young AI enthusiasts, researchers, developers, and industry experts provided a platform for individuals passionate about artificial intelligence to connect, exchange ideas and best practices on the role of Artificial Intelligence in digital work readiness skills development, amplification of work opportunities in the digital economy ecosystem, utilization of public-private partnerships as catalysts for fostering freelancers’ development in the economy, while staying abreast of the latest trends and breakthroughs in the field.
Kenya so far has 2500 Artificial Intelligence professionals including machine learning, and data science practitioners among others according to AI Kenya.
Although there are legitimate concerns about the rapidly advancing technology, there are also numerous artificial intelligence examples that prove it’s shaping the future for the better.
“AI will revolutionize labour, it won’t necessarily eliminate jobs, but it may complement them. AI has the potential to bring about numerous positive changes in society, including enhanced productivity, improved healthcare, and increased access to education. eMobilis and Ajira Digital fraternity is entrenched in supporting communities of online workers given the many benefits young people can leverage including mental health support, networking and referrals, crowdsourcing, industry updates, advocacy among others. For instance, as young people and AI enthusiasts, you should leverage the power of a community to guide on what necessary bills need to be passed to support this ecosystem. Again, a community allows you to develop products and become a pipeline and source of talent to overseas companies looking for top talent as indeed, there is an eminent war for talent in this space.” Ken Mwenda, Co-Founder and Managing Director, eMobilis Technology Training Institute said.
“Did you know that Sama (formerly known as samasource) ,a company that was involved in moderation of the Chat GPT Open AI is based in kenya? This means the kenyan youth have the right skills, energy and attitudes to participate in development of such global scale innovations. The government through the Ajira Digital program is keen to promote AI in the country, which ultimately drives productivity across the gig and digital economy. In 2023 alone, Ajira Digital has trained and mentored over 300 AI professionals to take up digital and digitally enabled work opportunities, and the good thing is that the Ajira Digital curriculum has factored in inputs from industry experts which allows young people to gain hands-on work-readiness skills to participate in digital and digitally enabled work opportunities,” he added.
Joan Mbesya, the co-founder and the CEO, Tech Mindset AI Africa said AI is taking everyone where they will encounter AI in one way or another. She urged young people not to leave what they are studying but to study AI in their domain.
“My vision is to be the person who inspires AI in Africa. I understand AI from the perspective of each profession. In the next five years if you look for a job and you don’t have AI you will be replaced by AI. From your domain, do not leave what you are studying. What I would encourage you is to study AI application within your expertise domain because the organizations that you are going to work for are not going to proceed without integrating AI. At TechMindset we have educated over 2000 people in Africa on AI and Machine learning, in six different countries and incubated fifteen projects.” Mbesya said.
“KEPSA has linked over 100,000 young people to digital and digitally enabled work. The topic of AI is of interest to me and also to KEPSA because the labor market is changing and every day we have to adapt to the new changes in the labour market,” said Alice Kimani, Private Sector Engagement Lead- Ajira Digital and Youth Employment.
“Besides the Ajira digital program, KEPSA is also implementing other programs like the digital skills and employment advancement in partnership with Microsoft and are seeking to train businesses on the topics like AI, cloud computing, Cyber security, entrepreneurship and sustainability. The skills are aimed at bridging the gap of what is being taught in the classroom and what is needed in the industry. The other program is Twende digital program in partnership with Talent Firm Youth Employment. We want to create more than 3,000 jobs for young people through small and medium entriprices utilization. So if you are not into getting a job but going to start your own business, we can help you to develop your own enterprise. My call to young people is to invest in new skills as skills are changing every day, and also keep abreast of what is happening in the labour market.” She added.
Abdiaziz Ibrahim, an AI professional is working on a project dubbed ‘KITRO’ that uses AI to address the challenge of food wastage said the aim of the project was to collect data using KITRO to identify the amounts of food wastage in addition to providing business intelligence on how to curb food wastage.
“KITRO helps in collecting data of wasted food, we label and segment the data to sample the arrangement then feed the information to the AI machine and thereafter validate the information. This data helps restaurants and hotels to know the amount of food to prepare to avoid wastage. Since the inception of this project, we have managed to save 5,950 meals, leading to reduction in avoidable food wastage at 45 per cent.”
The Ajira Digital Artificial Intelligence Workers Meetup has an official LinkedIn page open to anyone with an interest in AI, from seasoned professionals to students and enthusiasts for networking and future collaborations.
The AJIRA Digital Program is a Government initiative launched and driven by the Ministry of Information, Communications and Digital Economy whose mission is to enable over 1 Million Kenyan youth to earn a decent wage from digital and digitally-enabled jobs annually, in the Gig and Freelancing economy through digital skills development and job demand linkages.
The program seeks to position Kenya as a choice labour destination and a Business Process Outsourcing Hub for multinational companies as well as to encourage local companies and the Public Sector to create Digital Work.
Additionally, the program has strategic support from Mastercard Foundation, and is being implemented by different partners including KEPSA and eMobilis.