Zimbabwe is not ready for artificial intelligence (AI). The big issues currently pressing are continental integration, economies of scale, innovation, entrepreneurship, infrastructure (power, transport, digital, etc.), and governance (zero corruption, democracy, rule of law).
AI is another tool to solve global challenges such as climate change. A country or an enterprise should have an AI Vision, AI Strategy, and an AI implementation Matrix. Every sector in the economy is being affected by AI which is at the cornerstone (DNA) of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Accordingly, AI is one of the 4IR key drivers and it entails solutions that are earmarked to solve energy storage. Some aspects include quantum computing and AI, artificial general intelligence, generated AI – ChatGPT – creating new content and ideas, and super Intelligence. Once a breakthrough is achieved, replication is very easy and entrepreneurs should strive to find ways to be ready for this opportunity. Generate AI is expected to add about US$4 trillion to global GDP in 2024 and AI can be used to drive capacity utilization and productivity in industry.
Some old jobs are being replaced by AI while others are being modified by AI. Also, new jobs are being created by AI. Thus, the augmentation of skills is taking place through AI as well as the modification of jobs. As new jobs are being introduced, of paramount importance is the retooling of the potential losers due to AI. Thus, tertiary education institutions have to be cognizant of the new skills and competencies, and corporates should invest in the reskilling of the workforce. This is in line with the famous quote; “The day you stop learning is the day you die.” Accordingly, deliberate efforts are required in an endeavour to ensure that the new jobs are more than the destroyed jobs. The key question is: “How can the private sector help the Government to ensure the equation is valid?” The critical step is understanding and identifying the opportunities, the dangers, and the mitigation mechanisms.
For Zimbabwe to take the next step in embracing AI, there is a need for a significant number of early adopters of technology and an enabling policy and regulatory framework that fosters the adoption and investment in research and development. The readiness enablers are politics, values, and principles. As AI is taking center stage in Zimbabwe and the world at large, three Acts of Parliament are required and these are, the Digital Markets Act, the Zimbabwe Artificial Intelligence Act, and the Digital Services Act. Given that continental integration is one of the pressing issues as already been alluded to, the assessment of the Regional and Continental AI Effects should be prioritized. African countries, through regional bodies like SADC and COMESA, should come up with strategies at the regional level and this builds into the continental level. SADC and Zimbabwe can drive these efforts, and the private sector should take the lead through reimaging business. The private sector was urged to take the problems of Zimbabwe personally to be able to make significant steps in solving them. Sometimes there is no need to reinvent the wheel, but to build from what is already there taking the European Union as an example.