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Talking Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Zambia’s social-economic Landscape

By Bernadette Deka Zulu-PhD Researcher(Public Enterprise)

As a sitting Board Member for the BRICS Women Alliance, I am proud to highlight the works that the BRICS Women Alliance Zambia/South Africa is doing to promote women’s awareness in Artificial Intelligence and its impact on their businesses and workforce.

Last week, to commemorate the international women’s week, the Alliance held a seminar for women in Business, with topic ‘Leveraging Digital Infrastructure and Addressing the Digital Divide using Digital and Disruptive Technologies from a Gender Perspective’.

In recent years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative force, reshaping industries, economies, and societies across the globe. While its potential benefits are vast, the integration of AI technologies also brings forth challenges and considerations, particularly for developing nations like Zambia. As this Southern African nation strives for economic growth and social development, understanding and harnessing the power of AI becomes increasingly crucial. In this article, we delve into the social-economic impact of AI on Zambia and explore strategies for leveraging its potential while mitigating associated risks.

Understanding AI’s potential

At its core, AI refers to the development of computer systems capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. These tasks include learning, problem-solving, perception, and decision-making. In Zambia, AI holds the promise of driving innovation across various sectors, including agriculture, healthcare, education, and finance.

-Agriculture:

Zambia’s economy heavily relies on agriculture, with a significant portion of the population engaged in small-scale farming. AI-powered technologies can enhance agricultural productivity by providing insights into crop health, soil quality, and weather patterns. For instance, AI-driven analytics can optimize irrigation schedules, increase crop yields, and mitigate the impact of climate change on farming practices

-Health Care:

Access to quality healthcare remains a challenge in many parts of Zambia. AI applications such as telemedicine, predictive analytics, and medical imaging can improve healthcare delivery, particularly in remote areas. Diagnostic AI systems can assist healthcare professionals in early disease detection, thus reducing mortality rates and improving overall public health outcomes.

-Education:

The education sector stands to benefit from AI-driven personalized learning platforms and educational content. By adapting to students’ individual learning styles and abilities, AI can enhance the effectiveness of teaching methods and improve educational outcomes. Additionally, AI-powered chatbots and virtual tutors can provide students with access to educational resources and support, irrespective of their geographical location

-Finance:

In finance, AI technologies offer opportunities for financial inclusion and improved efficiency. AI-powered algorithms can assess creditworthiness, facilitate digital payments, and detect fraudulent activities, thereby enhancing the accessibility and security of financial services for Zambian citizens. Moreover, AI-driven robo-advisors can offer personalized financial advice and investment strategies to individuals, fostering a culture of savings and wealth accumulation

Addressing Social Economic Challenges

Despite its transformative potential, the widespread adoption of AI in Zambia faces several socio-economic challenges that must be addressed:

  1. Limited access to reliable electricity, internet connectivity, and digital infrastructure poses barriers to the adoption of AI technologies in Zambia. Investment in infrastructure development is essential to create an enabling environment for AI deployment and usage, particularly in rural and underserved communities
  2. The successful integration of AI requires a skilled workforce capable of developing, deploying, and maintaining AI solutions. Investing in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education and vocational training programs can equip Zambian youth with the skills necessary to thrive in an AI-driven economy.
  3. As AI technologies become more pervasive, it is imperative to address ethical considerations surrounding data privacy, algorithmic bias, and job displacement. Establishing regulatory frameworks and ethical guidelines can ensure that AI is deployed responsibly and ethically, safeguarding the rights and well-being of Zambian citizens
  4. To harness the full potential of AI, it is essential to ensure that its benefits are equitably distributed across society. Efforts to promote inclusive growth should focus on bridging the digital divide, empowering marginalized communities, and fostering entrepreneurship and innovation in AI-related industries

In essence, Artificial Intelligence has the potential to drive socio-economic development and transform lives in Zambia. By leveraging AI technologies effectively and addressing associated challenges, Zambia can accelerate progress towards achieving its development goals and improving the well-being of its citizens.

Lastly, collaboration between government, industry, academia, and civil society will be essential in navigating the opportunities and challenges presented by AI, ultimately shaping a future where AI serves as a catalyst for inclusive and sustainable development in Zambia.

Therefor the work that the BRICS Women Business Alliance have begun advancing in Zambia to equip businesses with AI workable knowledge must be not only encouraged, but emulated by other stakeholders.

(bernadettedekazulu@gmail.com)

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