AFRICA: Rockefeller funds artificial intelligence for climate adaptation

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AFRICA: Rockefeller funds artificial intelligence for climate adaptation © Capitano Footage/Shutterstock

The Rockefeller Foundation is funding a collaboration between the e-GUIDE and Atlas AI platforms. The aim of the partnership is to use satellite data and artificial intelligence to support economic development and climate resilience in Africa.

Although its share of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is only 3% of global emissions, Africa is expected to bear the brunt of the economic impact of climate change, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB). To support the resilience of African economies, the Rockefeller Foundation is funding $5.5 million to establish a partnership between the Electricity Growth and Use In Developing Economies Initiative (e-GUIDE) and Atlas AI.

The e-GUIDE was launched in 2018 as a partnership between the Rockefeller Foundation, the Colorado School of Mines, and the Universities of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst, Columbia, and Carnegie Mellon. This platform uses artificial intelligence to predict electricity consumption in Africa and measure productive energy use in the agricultural sector.

Implementation in four countries

This technology will be combined with that of Atlas AI, a start-up resulting from a collaboration between the Rockefeller Foundation and a team of professors from Stanford University. The Silicon Valley, California-based start-up uses data from a range of global sensors and deep learning technologies to monitor climate change and its impact on economies.

“Atlas AI has extensive experience in building hyperlocal socio-economic data sets, predictive analytic models and software platforms to guide complex policy and investment decisions,” says the Rockefeller Foundation. In its initial phase, the programme will cover Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda.

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In these West and East African countries, the platform will provide policymakers with detailed cross-sector information on where new infrastructure development can help mitigate community vulnerabilities and promote economic opportunities. The initiative will thus contribute “to efforts to prioritise and sequence investments in these key areas more effectively,” says the Rockefeller Foundation.

“While data science has been used to improve individual development projects, we have not yet unlocked its potential to improve systems-level development, which is essential, as efforts to drive change in the energy, agriculture and transportation sectors must be integrated to make opportunities universal and sustainable,” argues Zia Khan, the Rockefeller Foundation’s senior vice president for innovation.

Jean Marie Takouleu


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