Technology in Africa: Startup Uses AI To Create News Stories

Our social media guy David Dhannoo remains in Africa, following on from his article last week about the rise of FinTech on the continent. Dave’s technology in Africa series now looks at how a startup in Southern Africa is using artificial intelligence to source news articles.


 

Technology in Africa: Startup Uses AI To Create News Stories

Controvert Media from Zimbabwe has implemented the use of artificial intelligence to automatically write and post news articles. They caught my attention from when they trialled their AI idea at the recent African Cup of Nations which took place Gabon.

Technology in Africa: Startup Uses AI To Create News Stories

The startup used an AI bot that puts together basic reports on final match reports, taking into account the match scores, player performance data, and so on.

The AI bot has made journalists’ jobs a lot easier as they can focus on other aspects of the game, especially the emotional aspects, as the bot cannot, of course, read how a player or manager is feeling during the match. This part is where the journalists can focus on thought-provoking pieces on a team/manager’s performance and looking at the qualitative side since the quantitative parts of the game have already been documented by the bot.

The Zimbabwean startup’s CEO William Chui mentioned in a recent article in IT News Africa that, contrary to the belief that artificial intelligence apps will push people out of jobs (an opinion held by many), these kinds of AI apps will actually create job opportunities.

Mr Chui stressed that a variety of jobs will disappear in the future. However, there will also be other job openings. He uses the internet as one example:

“Think about it; in 1999, all the jobs brought about by the internet today didn’t exist at all then. Jobs like ‘social media manager’, ‘blogger’ or ‘mobile app developer’, or the possibility to do animation for a film studio in Hollywood while you’re in Zimbabwe, were beyond our imagination.

He goes on to say that internet technology in Africa, and across the globe, has created more jobs and thinks artificial intelligence will have the same effect in the near future.

The startup admits that there were a lot of challenges involved with using the AI bot for reporting on the African Cup of Nations games. Firstly, they only had basic data to work with, which was problematic for the team who were working on the AI project, because the bot relies on a lot of data in order to work efficiently.

Controvert Media stressed that data is a big challenge in technology in Africa and that they are currently working on more efficient ways of gathering data. They mentioned that even for big sporting events such as the African Cup of Nations, obtaining data is still surprisingly limited compared with other world tournaments.

The African startup mentioned that they will continue to use and test the AI bot; their next project will be to use it in the Zimbabwean league which, I believe, starts this month.

 



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