How AI is Impacting Ugandan Businesses

by Christopher Kiiza
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The rapid evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fundamentally reshaping the operational landscape of businesses. This transformative technology is not only automating processes but also significantly enhancing decision making capabilities, exerting a substantial influence on enterprises of various scales.

AI stands at the forefront of modern technological innovation, encompassing a range of advanced techniques that enable machines to mimic human cognitive functions. Rooted in computer science, AI involves creating algorithms and systems that can process, understand, and respond to complex data, thereby enabling machines to exhibit human-like reasoning, learning, and problem-solving capabilities.

In Uganda, the impact of AI is still in its early stages, but there are a number of ways in which AI is already being used by businesses.

For instance, AI is being used to automate customer service tasks, such as responding to queries and resolving issues, personalize marketing campaigns by targeting customers with relevant offers and content, detect fraud and prevent financial losses, improve supply chain management by optimizing inventory levels and transportation routes, develop new products and services by identifying market trends and customer needs among others.

Initially, all these tasks would be carried out by human beings, which now points to concerns about the extent to which AI has and will continue to cause unemployment.

AI is being used to automate customer service tasks, such as responding to queries and resolving issues among others.

Additionally, employers are much aware of the fact that AI can help businesses make better decisions by providing accurate and timely data analysis. AI can for instance be used to analyse customer data to identify trends and patterns. This information can then be used to make better marketing, sales, and product decisions.

Artificial Intelligence can also be used to improve the customer experience by personalizing interactions and providing more tailored recommendations and support. The AI technology can be used to track customer preferences and suggest products or services that they are likely to be interested in, develop new products and services by identifying market trends and customer needs, and analyse social media data to identify potential new products or services that customers are interested in.

In Uganda, AI is already having a major impact on businesses. For instance, insurance companies are using AI to automate claims processing and fraud detection in order to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Banks too are using AI to detect fraudulent transactions and provide personalized customer service. This is helping them to protect their customers and improve customer satisfaction.

Retailers are using AI to personalize marketing campaigns and recommend products to customers. This is helping them to increase sales and improve customer loyalty.

The rapid advancement of Artificial Intelligence technology has triggered a significant transformation in the job market, raising concerns about job displacement and workforce dynamics. AI’s capability to automate tasks, analyse data, and perform cognitive functions has led to its integration into various industries, resulting in the displacement of certain roles.

In the present, routine and repetitive tasks, particularly those involving data entry, basic analysis, and manual labour, are increasingly being automated by AI-driven systems. This trend has already affected industries such as manufacturing, customer service, and administrative functions.

CHALLENGE TO BUSINESSES

While the potential benefits of Artificial Intelligence are clear, there are also many challenges that businesses in Uganda need to be aware of when adopting AI such as the cost of AI technology which can be expensive and therefore a barrier to some businesses.

A report published in 2020 by the Makerere University School of Computing and Information Technology under the title “Artificial Intelligence in Uganda: Opportunities and Challenges” identifies a number of challenges that businesses in Uganda need to address in order to fully realize the benefits of Artificial Intelligence.

Makerere University School of Computing and Information Technology

Among the challenges highlighted in the report include shortage of skilled workers with the knowledge and skills needed to develop and implement AI solutions.

“There is a shortage of skilled AI professionals in Uganda. This is a major barrier to the development and adoption of AI-based solutions,” the report reads in part.

The report also mentions the cost of Artificial Intelligence technology is still relatively high, which makes it inaccessible to many businesses in Uganda.

The report further highlights concerns about the privacy and security of data that is used to train and deploy AI models.

“These concerns need to be addressed before AI can be widely adopted.”

RECOMMENDATIONS

The report makes the following recommendations to address the challenges and realize the potential of AI in Uganda:

Invest in training and education: There is a need to invest in training and education to develop a skilled workforce in AI. This can be done through partnerships between universities, businesses, and government.

Reduce the cost of technology: There is a need to reduce the cost of AI technology to make it more accessible. This can be done through government subsidies and by encouraging the development of open-source AI tools and solutions.

Protect data privacy and security: There is a need to put in place strong data privacy and security measures to protect the data that is used to train and deploy AI models. This can be done through legislation, regulation, and best practices.

Raise awareness: There is a need to raise awareness about the potential benefits and risks of AI in Uganda. This can be done through public education campaigns and outreach programs.

The potential benefits of AI for businesses in Uganda are significant. By addressing the challenges and building capacity, businesses in Uganda can position themselves to be leaders in the adoption of Artificial Intelligence.

There is no doubt that in the future, AI is likely to have an even greater impact on businesses. AI-powered technologies will become more sophisticated and affordable, making them accessible to a wider range of businesses. AI will also be used to automate more tasks and make decisions that are currently made by humans. This will lead to changes in the way businesses operate and the jobs that are available.

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