National Times (Yaounde) – Cameroon giant telecommunication provider CAMTEL and its prestigious University of Yaounde I have recently concluded a deal that will see the country create the first Artificial Intelligence (AI) learning centre in the country.
Reports from IT Web Africa reveal that “Judith Yah Sunday Achidi, General Manager of Camtel and Prof. Maurice Aurelien Sosso, Rector of the University of Yaounde I have committed to the FCFA 1.3-billion project”.
The training centre is part of Cameroon’s government strategy to increase its local IT skills in what the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya has referred to as the “Andriod age”. Mrs Ahidi said “We envisage training one hundred at the start. Twenty-five percent of the pioneer students will benefit from fully-funded scholarships offered by Camtel and its partners on the one hand, and the University of Yaounde I, through Polytech, on the other hand”.
The Centre will be hosted at the University of Yaounde I. National Times has contacted Camtel for details about the specific skills the training centre is envisage to impact on Cameroonians and which industries are been targeted.
AI research and expertise is mainly concentrated in developed countries. Experts say there are lots of downside to this. Moustapha Cisse says the “lack of diversity can entrench unintended algorithmic biases and build discrimination into AI products. And that’s not the only gap: fewer African AI researchers and engineers means fewer opportunities to use AI to improve the lives of Africans. The research community is also missing out on talented individuals simply because they have not received the right education.
He has called for more investment in artificial intelligence training labs across Africa. “Africa is home to the youngest and fastest-growing population on Earth. I am 33 years old, and that makes me older than most of the continent’s inhabitants (the median age in Africa is 19; in the European Union, 43). Enthusiasm is huge. Last year, the Deep Learning Indaba gatherings across Africa hosted 300 students from 23 African countries, and had to turn down more applicants than it could accept” he said.
The opening of the training centre in Cameroon, is therefore a step in the right direction taken by the Cameroonian government.