Science & Technology

Emergence of AI Startups in Nigeria

The emerging AI landscape in Nigeria shows significant promise and rapid growth driven by a combination of entrepreneurial initiatives, educational efforts, and supportive policies. Growing interest in innovative technologies led to a significant increase in AI startups in Nigeria in the past few years. 

Emergence of AI Startups in Nigeria

The Nigerian government has recently shown interest in fostering technological innovation, including artificial intelligence (AI). The authorities are making efforts to integrate AI into various sectors of the economy and improve public services with this innovative tech. Collaborations with global tech companies and academic institutions are helping to advance AI research and development in Nigeria, with papers and projects from Nigerian institutions increasingly featured in international conferences and journals.

Universities and private institutions in Nigeria are progressively offering courses and programs focused on AI and data science. Besides, a few local innovation hubs, tech companies, and non-profits like Data Science Nigeria are actively involved in training and mentorship programs, including boot camps and hackathons, providing resources and collaboration opportunities for AI and other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.

It is too early to call Nigeria a global AI hub. However, the research and development of artificial intelligence solutions in the country is exponentially growing. Nigeria’s startup and innovation ecosystem has changed drastically over the last decade. There are a number of AI startups working towards a better future for local businesses and communities in the country.

What Do AI Startups Do?

AI startups focus on developing and commercialising products, services, or solutions that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. These startups typically aim to innovate and create value in various industries by using AI to solve specific problems, improve efficiency of the work process, or enable new capabilities. 

AI startups often build their core offerings around AI technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, robotics, and more. They may develop new algorithms and models, or build new applications on top of the existing tech stack.

AI startups bring innovation to all types of businesses and industries. In healthcare, they may work on diagnostic tools, personalised medicine, or predictive analytics. In finance, AI startups might develop algorithms for trading, fraud detection, risk management, budget management, sustainable investing, and customer service automation. Startups in this space often focus on e-commerce and marketing, offering solutions like recommendation engines, inventory management systems, customer sentiment analysis, chatbots, virtual assistants and virtual shopping promoters, etc. 

AI Startups in Nigeria

In Nigeria, there’s a range of startups leveraging AI to solve local problems. This emerging cohort of entrepreneurs and tech professionals addresses issues that traditional businesses could not handle with conventional software. Some of the top use cases are IT automation, intelligent task/process automation, automated threat analysis and investigation, supply and logistics, automated customer service agents, and automated HR processes. 

Seamfix

Seamfix is building KYC and digital ID verification solutions for the telecommunications, public and private sectors throughout Africa and emerging markets. Its main products include end-to-end biometric enrolment solution, identity APIs, data capture, process automation, AI-powered digital ID verification system, and verifiable credential suite, featuring foreign certificate verification, personal reference check, guarantor check, and even social media presence check. 

Having recently secured a $4.5 million funding, the startup is currently expanding its background check services into new African markets of Ghana, Benin Republic, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal. 

Zindi

Zindi is a pan-African data science marketplace, labelling itself as a social enterprise, where the supply and demand for AI solutions and talent can connect. The data science competition platform cooperates with companies, non-profit organisations, and government institutions to develop, curate, and prepare data-driven challenges. The latter are focused on solving Africa’s most pressing problems. Offered solutions are then ranked automatically by the accuracy achieved. Data scientists and creators joining the Zindi community may find all the tools they need to compete, share ideas, hone their skills, build their professional profiles, and find career opportunities in the AI ecosystem of Nigeria. 

Ubenwa Health

Ubenwa is developing a highly specialised AI to interpret infants’ needs and health state from their cry sounds. Its AI foundation model analyses the acoustic biomarkers in baby cry sounds recorded by mic-enabled devices. This smart baby monitoring app can potentially detect illnesses and diseases such as birth asphyxia which accounts for the death of 1 million babies during the first month after birth. To acquire more data for clinical validation studies, Ubenwa founders have been collaborating with doctors in Nigeria, Canada, and Brazil. 

Emergence of AI Startups in Nigeria

MyCover.ai

Founded in 2021, MyCover.ai is an insurtech startup focused on addressing the pain points in the African insurance market, e.g. the lack of access, inadequate coverage, the unaffordability of insurance products and the poor customer experience surrounding insurance processes. It leverages artificial intelligence technology to transform underwriting and product development, automate claims evaluation, distribution and more. The firm’s open insurance API integrates with leading insurance companies and allows other businesses and innovators to seamlessly embed popular insurance products into their platforms. 

Jamborow

Jamborow is B2B AI and blockchain-driven software solution platform focused on financial inclusion and grassroots empowerment. The startup operates in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda. Its target audience is the unbanked population in Africa, represented by traditional savings groups in forms of SACCO, AJO, ESUSU, SUSU etc. Jamborow uses AI to automate credit checks with a proprietary credit scoring algorithm. The company provides services for retailers and savings groups. Its latest offering is Jamborow AgTech that helps farmers properly scale their produce, giving them the information needed to make better decisions and improve their business. Jamborow raised $400,000 from its shareholders in 2020 to launch in Nigeria. The startup has also extended its reach across Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Botswana. 

Nomba

Having started as an AI chatbot integration that responded to financial requests on social apps in 2017, Kudi.AI was later rebranded to Nomba and reached a $150 million valuation in a little over five years. The startup was listed among the top five most funded Nigerian startups in 2023, with its latest US$30 million pre-Series B funding round. Furthermore, Nomba expanded its offerings to include payments and business banking services, illustrating an evolution and scaling of its business model. Today, the firm provides point-of-sale terminals, sales management and banking tools for businesses to accept offline and online payments.

InstaDeep

Founded in Tunisia in 2014 and now headquartered in London, InstaDeep has offices in Paris, Tunis, Lagos, Cape Town and Dubai. The company delivers AI products and solutions for the enterprises across a range of industries and sectors, like energy, logistics, biology, or electronic design. One of InstaDeep’s most recent projects is the development of AI models to decipher human genome information. The company also offers AI-accelerated protein design, AI-powered 3D packing software, cloud-native PCB routing based on AI algorithms, and various actionable custom AI solutions. 

Aibanc

The startup offers AI-powered banking services with the focus on digital lending. Aibanc allows customers to access credit through a mobile app. It is utilising AI and ML models to drive personalisation accessing credit. The startup is only three years old and its business is still in its nascent stage. 

Zeeh Africa

Zeeh Africa is an AI-powered open banking platform connecting businesses to financial data. The startup’s data infrastructure can help its customers implement the necessary security measures, such as encryption, access controls, and monitoring. Its data product set covers KYC, credit insights, financial account information, and more. With the help of the platform, Zeeh business customers can create customised financial management experiences for individual users, launch digital banking services, connect clients with eco-friendly loans and Insurances, and leverage real-time data insights to inform budgeting and future planning decisions as well as savings and investment decisions. 

Greenbii

Greenbii is an AI-driven asset financing and software management platform for SMEs. The startup provides ​​AI-powered recommendations on the softwares and devices its clients need the most and funds business software, mobile tablets, PCs, smart cards and trackers as well as backup solar power. Greenbii also helps SMEs figure out the best repayment plan with a quick assessment of their businesses. 

Trucki

Trucki is a Lagos-based logistics startup that is leveraging blockchain and AI to provide a haulage infrastructure that connects cargo stakeholders. Trucki’s platform caters for all stakeholders in the supply chain network using big data and technology to reduce supply chain risks, logistics bottlenecks, manufacturing waste, low turn-around and loss of goods. The startup focuses on building an AI-powered logistics infrastructure, providing a digital marketplace for truckers and cargo owners, and  developing logistics management solutions. 

Nina Bobro

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https://payspacemagazine.com/

Nina is passionate about financial technologies and environmental issues, reporting on the industry news and the most exciting projects that build their offerings around the intersection of fintech and sustainability.