InstaDeep’s Co-Founder and CEO Karim Beguir joined Ghana’s president, Nigeria’s vice-president, the IFC’s managing director and other high-ranking officials onstage at the 2022 Africa CEO Forum, to deliver his message that AI is a critical technology for Africa’s development and economic sovereignty in the 21st century.
The annual forum took place in Abidjan – in-person, for the first time in three years – against the backdrop of the ongoing disruptions caused by Covid, geopolitical and financial crises. A key theme for this year’s meeting was how Africa’s private sector can work with governments to accelerate structural changes that will make the continent more economically self-sufficient.
During the opening ceremony, the Africa CEO Forum’s Founder and President Amir Ben Yahmed, who is also Managing Director of the Jeune Afrique Media Group, pointed to AI, and InstaDeep in particular, as a beacon for optimism in Africa. Citing InstaDeep’s recent $100 million fundraising round, Ben Yahmed said InstaDeep’s CEO was in Abidjan to “share the opportunity that AI offers the continent.”
More than 1,500 business leaders, investors and policy makers from across Africa and around the world attended the conference.
Beguir spoke as part of the opening high-powered panel, “Economic Sovereignty: From Ambition to Action.” On stage, he joined Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, Nigerian Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Managing Director Makhtar Diop and Kenya’s Central Bank Governor Patrick Njoroge. The CEO of Telcar Cocoa, Cameroon’s largest cocoa exporter, Kate Kanyi Tometi Fotso and Acha Leke, Senior Partner and Chairman, McKinsey & Company, Africa also spoke on the panel.
Beguir’s message to the forum was that AI should be considered a decisive technology for development and self-sufficiency, comparable to the role played by nuclear power in the 20th century. However – unlike nuclear power plants – AI is very accessible to all, if nations adopt the right mindset.
“With AI, Africa actually has a chance,” Beguir told the forum. “All the knowledge is out there in the open and on the internet. If you have smart minds, people who are motivated to learn and work hard, they can really build the technologies of tomorrow.”
“At InstaDeep, we started with $2,000 and two laptops,” he said and the company has grown into a leader in AI R&D innovation, ranked in the top 100 AI startups globally. “This is only one example and there are so many more where the talent of Africa can really build the future.”
Beguir was invited to the Africa CEO Forum as an inaugural member of the Disrupters Club, an initiative where the CEOs of dynamic African start-ups and the CEOs of African multinationals interact to spur innovation and foster a new generation of private sector champions.
Beguir, who also spoke in the “Future of” forecasting session, was among thirty young innovators named to the Disruptors Club, who have raised a total of more than $1 billion since founding their startups and made a mark in 2021 and 2022 with their ability to create new markets and new growth paths.