Determined to use her skills to fight inequality, South African computer scientist Raesetje Sefala set to work to build algorithms flagging poverty hotspots – developing datasets she hopes will help target aid, new housing or clinics. From crop analysis to medical diagnostics, artificial intelligence (AI) is already used in essential tasks worldwide, but Sefala and a growing number of fellow African developers are pioneering it to tackle their continent’s particular challenges, writes Kim Harrisberg for Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In Africa, AI is gradually making its way into technologies such as advanced surveillance systems and combat drones, which are being deployed to fight organized crime, extremist groups, and violent insurgencies. Though the long-term potential for AI to impact military operations in Africa is undeniable, its impact on organized violence has so far been limited. These limits reflect both the novelty and constraints of existing AI-enabled technology.  

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