11 Africans Named Among the 100 Most Influential People in AI 2023

When ChatGPT first became available, it captured the interest of the entire world. This chatbot, however, was just one of several indicators that the fourth industrial revolution is underway, signaling a wave of technology advancements ready to revolutionize businesses and economies worldwide.

Africa, like the rest of the world, has succumbed to the AI bug. Its expansion has been steady in recent years, reflecting the continent’s growing interest in exploiting the promise of new technologies.

What’s more, Africa’s influence in the AI landscape goes beyond its boundaries, with Africans emerging as significant actors on the world arena in the field of AI.

TIME just published its inaugural TIME100 AI list, which highlights the 100 most significant persons in artificial intelligence. This impressive list includes 11 famous Africans who are leading the charge in this game-changing technology arena.

Here are the 11 Africans named among the top 100 AI influencers.

Inioluwa Deborah Raji, a Nigerian-Canadian computer scientist and activist, is 27 years old.

She began her AI activism while working as a fellow at the Mozilla Foundation. Her primary focus has been on operationalizing ethical issues in machine learning engineering techniques, which has aided in the establishment of ethical AI standards.

Lelapa AI’s CEO and co-founder is Pelonomi Moiloa. The firm, whose name means “home” in the South African languages Sotho and Tswana, promises to improve Africans’ quality of life through artificial intelligence.


Kate Kallot is the CEO and creator of Amini, a Nairobi-based firm that collects and analyzes environmental data at the square meter level using satellite photography and artificial intelligence.


Linda Dounia is a curator and artist who investigates the social creation of power and the cultural ramifications of its distribution. Her work is a conversation between physical and digital mediums, aided by AI, and combines image-making ideas from her design expertise.


Google’s senior vice president of research, technology, and society is James Manyika. He has an Oxford PhD in AI, worked as a tech adviser in the Obama administration, and has been a visiting scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs as well as a McKinsey consultant. Manyika, 58, is now a vice chair of the National AI Advisory Committee, a federal panel charged with developing AI regulations.


Anna Makanju is the vice president of global affairs of OpenAI, which has established itself as a key driver of good-faith regulation in the industry. Anna Makanju’s fingerprints will almost certainly be on whatever AI legislation emerge in the next years around the world.

Joy Buolamwini is the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League (AJL), an organization that combines research and art to highlight the social effects and potential downsides of AI. She is a Ghanaian-American-Canadian computer scientist and digital activist.


Mathenge was part of a team of Kenyan workers chosen a year before ChatGPT’s big launch to help iron out its problems. Mathenge went public in May as one of 150 African AI professionals who voted to form the first African Content Moderators Union, a cross-company attempt to improve working conditions for Big Tech workers in Kenya, a hub for this type of outsourced work.


Abeba Birhane is a cognitive scientist who studies human behavior, social systems, and responsible and ethical AI. She is a senior fellow in Trustworthy AI at the Mozilla Foundation, as well as an adjunct lecturer/assistant professor at Trinity College Dublin’s School of Computer Science and Statistics.


Timnit Gebru is the founder and CEO of the Distributed AI Research Institute. She co-wrote one of the most prominent AI ethics articles in recent memory, a journal article stating that the biases seen in large language models were not by chance, but rather the product of a deliberate decision to prioritize speed over safety.


Shakir Mohamed is a DeepMind research scientist in London. He has been with DeepMind for nearly 5 years, witnessing its transformation from a modest company to the world’s premier center for AI and its applications.

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