GIS – 28 November 2018: Over and above the economic benefits, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies can be leveraged for the betterment of the society and to address some of the challenges people face today in their daily lives by promoting social inclusion, safety, diagnosing diseases, environment protection, improvement of public services delivery, fight against criminal activities and drug trafficking, energy management and transport.
This statement was made today by the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, at the opening ceremony of a three-day World AI Show and World Blockchain Summit 2018 at InterContinental Resort Mauritius, in Balaclava. A live conversation with the United Nations Development Programme's first ever non-human Innovation Champion, the Humanoid robot, Sophia, present at the opening was also held.
The aim of the event is to identify opportunities for the deployment of AI in the various key sectors of Mauritius’s economy and implement the latest innovations that shape the AI and Blockchain roadmap in the following sectors: Digital Public Services, Transportation, Supply Chain, Emergency Management, Healthcare, FinTech Services, Smart Cities, Smart Education, and Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) and Manufacturing. The World AI Show and the World Blockchain Summit 2018 is organised by the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation, in collaboration with the Economic Development Board and Trescon Global.
In his keynote address, Prime Minister Jugnauth pointed out that recent advances in robotics, programming and machine learning suggest that significant gains can be achieved through the adoption of AI in the same way as the steam engine propelled an industrial revolution or the Internet revolutionalised the service industry.
Government, the Prime Minister said, has identified a number of growth enablers for Mauritius namely good governance, human capital investment, economic integration and also crucially innovation. As such, he emphasised, we want to maximise the use of emerging technologies in our journey towards a better Mauritius. He expressed conviction that the future of industries and businesses will depend very much on the use of new technologies such as AI, Blockchain, FinTech, IoT and Big Data.
According to Prime Minister Jugnauth, it is important that the dichotomy between growth and development is recognised. On their own, impressive economic figures cannot provide a guarantee for a better quality of life, the measurement of which is more multidimensional, he remarked. Education, infrastructure, services and health are better signs of well-being, he observed. This is why in the last Budget the basis for the emergence of a thriving ecosystem for AI was set under the theme ‘Harnessing AI to foster innovative entrepreneurship’ starting with the setting up of a Mauritius Artificial Intelligence Council, he indicated.
The Prime Minister highlighted that this initiative builds on a series of actions taken by Government to facilitate innovative firms to set up in Mauritius and foster a domestic entrepreneurial spirit in the fields such as AI, IoT, Blockchain and FinTech. An AI working group has been set up to prepare a roadmap for AI implementation in Mauritius after conducting a diagnostic of the local situation, he stated. The first copy of the roadmap is ready and will be peer-reviewed in sessions during the present World AI Show and Blockchain Summit, he announced.
Moreover, the Prime Minister recalled that the AI working group had, during its meetings, focused on the potential applications of AI in particular by matching the existing and new solutions to specific sectors and areas which could be of benefit to the economy and deciding the appropriate ecosystem to nurture AI in Mauritius. There is focus on building capacity in terms of labour and scarce requirements and Government will ensure that our people have the skills for operating in this field of work, he added.
For his part, the Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Yogida Sawmynaden, spoke of the importance to ensure that technological development be accompanied by inclusiveness. In Mauritius we have chosen to warrant that every citizen can benefit from the massive adoption of technology at all levels, he emphasised.
Innovation, the Minister highlighted, can be a very strong differentiator. Everyday innovators in businesses would create new products and those innovators manage to look at problems differently and come up with unique solutions which can provide an endless stream of value to their companies and this is why it is important that our local companies and start-ups think big, he added.
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