Villgro Africa Announces the “Harnessing the Power of AI for Africa’s Development” Top 11 Innovations

The Artificial Intelligence for Development (AI4D) program is a joint partnership between the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada and Sida, Sweden’s government agency for development cooperation. The program aims to support innovation, conduct policy research and develop the skills necessary to inspire and catalyse responsible AI development on the African continent. 

At the start of 2021, AI4D partnered with Villgro Africa in developing a Call for Innovations entitled “Harnessing the Power of AI for Africa’s Development”, which generated a tremendous response from across the continent. The aim of the call is to uncover African-led AI innovations that will be instrumental in catalyzing the emerging AI ecosystem towards responsible development of the technology while strengthening the capacity of African innovators to scale their impact and improve development outcomes within the context of sustainability and/or commercial viability.

The call generated a robust response of over 180 applications from 18 countries and resulted in 11 finalists. These startups represent 11 different countries on the continent and provide solutions in a variety of sectors including agriculture, maternal health, medical diagnostics, disability assistance and financial inclusion.  

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  1. Agrix Tech, a Cameroonian startup, has developed an application that helps farmers detect, treat, and prevent crop diseases sustainably and in an environmentally friendly manner. 
  2. Located in both Mauritius and Tanzania, Agripoa has created a farm management software that uses AI to support farmers in planning, monitoring, and analysing all farm activities by linking them with input suppliers, agronomists, insurance, and financial institutions. 
  3. Tanzania’s Redefine Africa is creating machine learning software that can be deployed on retail account customers and agent data to provide a model that can predict churn and activity. 
  4. XSENSEAI, also based in Tanzania, has developed an AI web application to detect breast cancer as early as possible based on ultrasound images, with a detection accuracy currently of 91%.  
  5. Ocular Makarere AI Lab, which started in Uganda, has developed a diagnostic AI tool to improve the accuracy of malaria testing.
  6. Zambia’s Dawa Health has created a digital health platform that increases access to maternal health for pregnant and nursing mothers. 
  7. Sekani, based in Kenya, has an application software that uses AI and neural networks to translate sign language to fill the communication gap between the deaf and hearing. 
  8. Burkina Faso’s Naana Technologies is a software application that uses ultrasound images of the breast to aid clinicians in the diagnosis of breast cancer. 
  9. Based in Mali, Yelenkoura Technologies creates an intelligent electronic guidance device that helps blind people perceive their environment through vibration and sound alerts. 
  10. Senegal’s Brain Tumor Detection provides a computer vision approach for detecting brain tumors. 
  11. Streamline is a community health-based insurance in rural areas of Uganda through a digital insurance platform that utilises machine learning in pricing of premiums, cost management, and fraud detection.