Cape Town Has Potential to be Leading AI Tech Hub

Cape Town has been at the forefront of the tech industry for the past two decades and is ready to dominate the industry globally – most notably with forays into artificial intelligence (AI). Stellenbosch, where a conglomerate of established and start-up tech companies are situated in the Technopark business area, has become the Cape’s own Silicon Valley. Cortex Group founder, Dr Jacques Ludik, said Cape Town might be the next technology hub but it faces stiff competition from the likes of India and China. “There has been some significant success but we need to now grow into Africa and I think the next step is to have a world-leading idea like Facebook being born in Cape Town to really give us that major success story,” he said.

Cortex is focused on AI initiatives and said it has the potential to solve societal issues. “We can use AI to understand the poverty landscape by taking satellite images of townships and the poorest areas to plug that data into machine-learning and then analyse the data to come up with solutions. “Satellite imagery can indicate areas of wealth based on the amount of lights at night, as poorer communities have less access to electricity. “This kind of modelling can also be used to identify which areas are most in need of aid. AI technology allows farmers armed with robots, sensors and drones to keep a close watch on growing conditions and intervene before any crop damage can occur. “Instead of watching technology and AI deepen the gaps in Africa instead of falling further behind the global economy, let’s use data, algorithms and our wealth of apps, screens, augmented realities, drones and sensors to fill them,” said Ludik. He is particularly excited by the use of AI in education. “If you’ve got AI that understands where you are in your learning curriculum it can guide you in specific ways to get you to learn at a specific pace,” he said.

In areas where pupils don’t have access to schools or teachers, chatbots can be used to provide individual attention to pupils and offer guidance through a syllabus. AI could also personalize learning by providing options for audio, visual or practical learning. “What we need to do is to educate all communities, bridging the increasing gap of our experiences of the world and improve and increase access to jobs that aren’t bound by geography,” said Ludik. The City of Cape Town Council recently announced its support for the tech industry and between January and December last year, invested R3.5 million in a one-year training programme at the Cape Innovation Technology Initiative campus in Salt River.

As Featured in: Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition), 28 July 2019 | Download Press Clipping


The Cortex Group is an African Artificial Intelligence (AI) focused holding company, building value in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4.0 IR) Economy on a local, regional and global scale. We work across multiple industry and business domains, developing cutting edge intelligence systems and AI-driven companies / platforms that leverage our unique mix of intellectual property, technologies, people, partners and communities. The Cortex Group currently consists of five companies, each focusing on key parts of the AI Ecosystem: Cortex Logic, Cortex Ventures, Cortex Health, Cortex Asset Management & Cortex Labs.

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