Q&A: NVIDIA’s Inception Program and the Future of AI In Africa

Fatima Tambajang, NVIDIA’s Head of Developer Relations for Africa, has been connecting African developer communities and equipping them with the tools and knowledge needed to create innovative AI solutions.

She recently wrote about NVIDIA inception member Intron Health and how they’re incorporating AI in health tech in Africa.

We caught up with Fatima and NVIDIA to find out more about their Inception program, the trends in AI, and what plans they have for the African region.

Tech Nova: Can you expand on NVIDIA’s Inception Program and what the program has achieved so far? 

NVIDIA Inception is a free, global program designed to nurture cutting-edge startups who are revolutionizing industries. The program is open for startups of all sizes and stages of growth, offering go-to-market support, expertise, and technology.

With close to 300 Inception members across the African continent, these startups are doing amazing things on NVIDIA platforms across a multitude of areas, from digital twins and climate science, to healthcare and robotics. 

TN: Apart from healthcare, what other use cases do you think AI can be applied to in Africa?

AI is applicable in nearly every industry, including education, transportation and energy. A key area where AI will be applicable is agriculture. AI can be used to improve crop yields, identify diseases in crops, and monitor weather patterns to aid in better crop management. Inception member Aerobotics is a South African startup that uses AI to help farmers protect their crops and maximize their yields. KaraAgro AI, another Inception member, offers an AI and drone-powered precision agriculture solution that helps farmers and seed producers improve yield, on-farm productivity, and explore climate-smart agricultural practices. 

TN: Which countries in Africa do they think have more “maturity” in terms of development of AI (regulatory, AI developers etc)

While several African countries have AI strategies in place – such as South Africa, Ghana, Tunisia, and Egypt – every African country is different when it comes to AI adoption. Africa as a whole has the world’s fastest-growing community of AI developers. 

“We continuously explore new opportunities to collaborate with African developer communities to support and engage both startups and developers.”

TN: What are some of the current challenges startups in Africa have when it comes to the development of AI and how is NVIDIA hoping to address some of them with its programs?

Developing and deploying AI-based solutions requires skills in key areas such as data science and machine learning. Having access to this knowledge base can be a challenge for startups looking to build with AI. NVIDIA is addressing this by providing free credits to the NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute (DLI) to startups in the Inception program. DLI offers self-paced and instructor-led courses, as well as learning materials on topics ranging from AI, accelerated computing, data science, graphics and simulation, and more.

TN: Are they any future programs NVIDIA is working on in the African space?

We recently launched a brand-new community program for students, the NVIDIA Student Network. This new program will provide student-led communities and organizations with exclusive training, tools, and projects to help members gain practical skills. This includes data science, computer vision, and speech AI projects for all levels that are designed for hands-on experience building AI applications. We continuously explore new opportunities to collaborate with African developer communities to support and engage both startups and developers.

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