Artificial Intelligence and Start-Ups in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Progress, Promises and Perils
Around the world, artificial intelligence (AI) is automating functions and making new services possible with breakthroughs in low-cost computing power, cloud computing services, growth in big data and advancements in machine learning (ML) and related processes. AI has the potential to radically alter and improve the way governments, organisations and individuals provide services, access information and improve their planning and operations.
This study examines the current use of AI in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The report maps a sample of 450 AI start-ups in LMICs in Africa and South and Southeast Asia, most of which are early-stage, home-grown solutions with a focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also explores trends and challenges in business models, barriers to innovation, and AI’s ethical and responsible use.
The report concludes that while AI has the potential to achieve social good, positive outcomes are not necessarily guaranteed. AI improves efficiency and productivity, but it may also deepen inequalities. Since increased use of data introduces further privacy and ethical concerns, AI solutions should be guided by sound privacy and ethical principles.