To deal with his nation’s barred entry to OpenAI’s well-known generative AI chatbot ChatGPT, Zimbabwean developer Kuda Musasiwa and his group have constructed alternate options—ZivAI and DanAI. These AI chatbots provide capabilities akin to picture and PDF technology, e-commerce, and so forth. Access to ChatGPT is barred in Zimbabwe on account of the sanctions towards the southern African nation by the US authorities and European Union.
TechCabal caught up with Musasiwa to get extra information on the chatbots, ZivAI and DanAI, the motivations behind constructing them, and his ideas on the way forward for generative AI instruments on the continent.
Please inform us a bit extra about ZivAI and the issue you are attempting to clear up by way of the chatbot
Kuda Musasiwa: Before constructing ZivAI, I used to be main the most important on-line retail retailer in Zimbabwe referred to as Fresh In A Box. At Fresh In A Box we leveraged quite a lot of AI applied sciences, particularly for our customer support facet of issues and one in every of these applied sciences, referred to as Shamu after which renamed Lucille, finally grew to become ZivAI.
We constructed this bot as a result of OpenAI had blocked Zimbabwe from accessing ChatGPT due to all of the sanctions so we figured, utilizing the open supply API, we might construct an alternative for our individuals. Leveraging our experience in e-commerce, we had been in a position to prolong the chatbot’s functionalities past what ChatGPT has. For instance, now we have an picture generator, PDF generator, information, and e-commerce capabilities, all baked into the chatbot.
We have additionally built-in a retailer into the platform which can be onboarding distributors in Zimbabwe and throughout the area this week. ZivAI is principally a co-pilot for Zimbabweans and now we have one other product, DanAI, which seeks to cowl the remainder of Africa and do its co-piloting function in a extra relatable African context.
What was the motivation for constructing the chatbots?
KM: Unfortunately, Zimbabwe is a sanctioned state so firms like OpenAI don’t hassle making an attempt to launch their merchandise right here. Additionally, we don’t have cost gateways like Stripe which work right here in order that’s one other problem for our individuals if they need to use these international merchandise. So as entrepreneurs, it was an issue or problem that we wished to clear up. We then set out to construct our personal cost gateways to facilitate transactions and we integrated overseas to have entry to some developer instruments we want to construct a very sturdy product.
In phrases of challenges, which of them had been most urgent while you had been constructing the chatbots?
KM: Honestly, I wouldn’t say we had any challenges. Our improvement group is extremely world class and we’re actually good at what we do as evidenced by our monitor file. As Zimbabweans, the one factor we want is entry and sadly, on account of the aforementioned sanctions, typically we don’t get this entry however we at all times attempt to discover a approach.
For instance, a easy factor akin to paying for a GitHub account or API entry utilizing a debit card is not as simple in Zimbabwe so we at all times have to discover a approach round that, however when it comes to experience, I feel now we have that half properly on lock.
What traction have the chatbots garnered to this point?
KM: We have peaked at over 18,000 customers on the platform in some unspecified time in the future in the previous few days. Additionally, now we have authorised over 19,000 logins through Linkedin and Twitter. For the time being, we aren’t permitting Google and Facebook logins as a result of we try to be certain that the site visitors coming to the positioning through these platforms, which we anticipate can be a complete lot, doesn’t throttle consumer expertise. But we can be permitting entry through these platforms very quickly as we construct up the resiliency of the platform.
We have additionally now uploaded the applying onto the Apple and Android shops to be sure that individuals can have this on their cellphone, seeing that going to a web site won’t be as sticky when 90% of individuals entry the web through their cellphones.
What are your ideas on the development of generative AI chatbots in Africa?
KM: All the chatbots that now we have proper now in Africa and on the earth are the worst that they’ll ever be proper now as a result of each single day, they get superior they usually get higher. So I need to be clear, this is the brand new approach that computing is going to be achieved. This is the brand new approach productiveness is going to be achieved. And as Africans, now we have a alternative. Do we sit again and watch the world develop round us and never take part? Or can we soar in at this explicit level, and make it some extent that we’re part of the dialog?
Our largest objective is to be sure that now we have our personal variations of those applied sciences that talk our languages and suppose like we do, therefore representing us properly within the worldwide house.
Interview has been edited for readability and size
…. to be continued
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