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Safaricom showcases AI model as engineering Summit kicks off

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa
Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa

The Safaricom Engineering Summit commenced on Wednesday, placing a strong emphasis on enhancing Kenya’s burgeoning tech talent and the pivotal role of artificial intelligence (AI). This event, known as Decode 2.0, is a collaborative effort between Safaricom and notable partners like Huawei, Dell Technologies, Mitsumi Distribution, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Techsavanna, Oracle, and Redington.

A highlight of the summit was the Safaricom – AWS Deep Racer Championship 2023, a miniature vehicle race held on an indoor track. This competition provided a platform for Safaricom’s data science and data engineering teams to showcase their proficiency in machine learning.

During the summit, Safaricom unveiled a demonstration of an innovative AI product named Digital Twin. This model receives prompts and, using the data it’s given, can generate a digital replica of an individual capable of providing responses.

Throughout the event, various stakeholders in the tech industry engaged in discussions about critical trends in the sector, encompassing AI, cross-border financial transactions, quantum computing, internet connectivity, eSports, gaming, and education.

Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom’s CEO, underscored the significance of the summit in nurturing digital talent as the company strives to transform into a purpose-driven digital enterprise within the next two years. Mr. Ndegwa stated, “Decode aligns with our vision to become a purpose-driven technology company by 2025. Together with other developer-focused initiatives, it fosters an engineering mindset as we work toward creating a digitally connected, accessible, and affordable Kenya.”

Safaricom reported an increase in its digital talent pool from 250 to 850 over the past three years. However, the company acknowledged a skills gap between ICT graduates and the demands of the job market, making initiatives like Safaricom Decode crucial.

Felix Koskei, Chief of Staff to President William Ruto and Head of Civil Service, who was the chief guest at the summit, stressed the importance of innovation and cutting-edge technology in job creation. He cited Kenya’s achievements in various sectors, including health, digital finance, AI-driven education, agriculture, and the digitization of court processes.

The readiness of the local workforce for transformative technologies like AI and strategies for equipping talent with the requisite skills to thrive in an AI-centric job market was another prominent topic discussed during the summit.

Molten Bangsgaard, Safaricom’s Chief Technology and Information Officer, expressed optimism about the role of AI in reshaping the future, emphasizing the emergence of high-speed connectivity and AI’s potential to optimize operations.

Kadri Humal, the Honorary Consul of Estonia to Kenya, highlighted the potential for rapid technological innovation, particularly AI, to expedite Kenya’s transformation into a technology-driven society, drawing upon Estonia’s success in this regard.