@iLabAfrica unveils the 2nd Global Data Science and AI Summit


@iLabAfrica launched the 2nd Global Data Science and AI Summit (GDSAI) at Strathmore University on November 9, showcasing Kenya’s advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) implementation.

The summit was graced by distinguished guests, including: H.E. Dr. William Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya; Dr. Vincent Ogutu, the Strathmore University Vice-Chancellor; Mene Wamkele, Secretary General at African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA); and Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director of @iLabAfrica. Many prominent figures from various industries also attended the summit, which marked a significant milestone in Kenya’s journey towards embracing and advancing AI.

Under the theme dubbed ‘Unlocking the Power of Big Data and AI, the summit provided valuable insights into data science and AI for individuals and organizations alike.

During a precursor pre-summit of the GDSAI summit on November 7, H.E. Dr. William Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya, said, “I welcome all of you to put forward your best ideas, perspectives, and insights in making sure that we utilize technology in the trade sector, not just for Kenya but for our continent and the world at large.”

In his opening remarks, Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director of @iLabAfrica, expressed his enthusiasm for hosting the 2023 GDSAI Summit, focusing on emerging technology. He highlighted the collaborative efforts between local initiatives and global tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Apple, emphasizing the potential for positive change and technological advancements that benefit Kenya and the world at large.

“The 2nd GDSAI Summit has brought together over 150 key industry stakeholders from diverse sectors to demonstrate the transformative power of data science and AI in revolutionizing lives,” Dr. John Olukuru, Head of Data Science and Analytics at @iLabAfrica.    

The summit’s first panel discussion, ‘Inclusivity, Digital Transformation, and Analytics in Financial Institutions,’ featured: Ezekiel Macharia, Managing Director and Chief Actuary at Kenbright; Hartnell Ndungi, Chief Data Officer at Absa Kenya; and Satyajit Turumella, IT Advisory Director at Grant Thornton Advisory East Africa.

During the discussion, Mr Macharia emphasized the importance of actively seeking efficient methods for data storage and exploring approaches to aggregate data. This, he stated, would facilitate communication for everyone, contribute to fostering inclusivity, drive digital transformation, and enhance analytics within financial institutions.



Mr Ndungi explored the diverse applications of AI in various business sectors, highlighting its versatility and potential in practical use cases.

  • identifying potential customers and recommending suitable products, which not only boosts sales but also enhances customer satisfaction by adjusting products to individual preferences.
  • collecting and analyzing feedback, hence enhancing customer interactions.
  • creating scorecards that help in understanding and predicting customer behavior, allowing organizations to anticipate the needs of their customers more effectively.


Some of the other topics discussed during the panel discussions included:

  1. Use of Data to Improve Health Services and Analysis, and AI in Health. This panel featured: Samuel Oti, Senior Program Specialist at International Development Research Centre (IDRC); Dr. Ngure Nganga, Founder at Savannah Health Informatics and Dep. Sec. – Gen Kenya Health Informatics Information;  Dr. Vinita Saini, CEO at Saadani Healthcare;  and Jonathan Friedman, Director Data Science at Palladium.
  2. How AI and big data are driving forward the climate change agenda, emphasizing the pivotal role of data science and AI in forging a sustainable and resilient future. This panel featured: Dr. Angela Ndaka, Executive Director and Co-Founder at CAE Justice; Dr. Samuel Chege, Senior Research Scientist and Manager at Microsoft Africa Research Institute; Zeph Kivungi, Senior Associate at Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet; and Brian Nyangema, Managing Partner at Bayes Consulting.
  3. Adopting modern technologies such as precision agriculture, IoT devices, and AI driven analytics to optimize resource use, increase yields, and enhance farm efficiency. The panel featured: Chris Orwa, Head of Data Science at Brave Venture Labs; Alex Karanja, Head of Digital Transformation at Naivas Supermarket; and Sajni Malde, Data Scientist at World Data Labs.
  4. AI for development- use of data to improve development. This panel featured: Mariam Ibrahim, Senior Manager at Development Initiatives; Odanga Madung, Senior Researcher for Elections and Platform Integrity at Mozilla Foundation; Philomena Mbura, Data Scientist and WID Lead; and Rositsa Zaimova, co-founder at Dalberg Data Insights.


Notably, Kenya actively applies AI across agriculture, health, education, fintech, and transport, strategically positioning itself to harness Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies like AI.

Mene Wamkele, Secretary General at African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), said, “As the world is becoming more African, we need to move aggressively to integrate the market and the continent by creating opportunities for young Africans.”

According to a recent global survey, Kenya has been ranked fifth in Africa in terms of government preparedness to implement AI for public service delivery. The 2022 Government AI Readiness Index, published by Oxford Insights, assigns Kenya an overall score of 40.36 percent, positioning it behind Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, and Morocco. Globally, Kenya is ranked 90th as nations brace for the expected disruptions from this emerging technology.

The summit attracted over 150 professionals, CEOs, and other senior managers, a representation of over 20 countries across the world, and offered networking with our various sponsors, speakers, and partners.

The 2nd GDSAI Summit serves as a testament to Kenya’s commitment to technological advancement and global collaboration in the ever-evolving landscape of data science and artificial intelligence. As the nation strives to unlock the power of big data and AI, these initiatives pave the way for a brighter and technologically empowered future.


By Wachira Kevin

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