Artificial intelligence is not here to render people jobless but, rather, to expand their horizons and creation of content.
This was the overriding message at the inaugural Uganda Entrepreneurship Congress and Exhibition, organized by the department of Marketing and Management of Makerere University at the university on November 16 and 17, 2023.
The congress, held on the first day with the theme ‘Adapt and thrive within the new normal of AI’, had a keynote speech, a panel discussion and breakaway sessions. Experienced entrepreneurs and industry players shared experiences with nascent entrepreneurs at Yusuf Lule CTF auditorium, stressing that entrepreneurship is a vehicle for socio- economic transformation of the country.
Academics and entrepreneurs testified to the many benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) in agriculture, health, education, tourism and hospitality, and other sectors. They gave examples of how AI does work fast, efficiently and effectively; but they warned that AI should not be misused, and it shouldn’t be treated as if it is a replacement for human beings.
Dr Dennis Ngabirano, the founder of Psalms Food Industries, said: “AI is about working smart, not about working hard... But as we apply AI, we must be doing the right things, and aim to remain agile...To achieve success, you need a mindset change – when everyone is sitting, you stand up; when everyone stands up, you stand out; when many people stand out, make yourself outstanding; and when many become outstanding, become the standard.”
AI CAN’T REPLACE HUMAN LABOUR
People should not fear that AI is going to do everything on its own, leading to mass unemployment. Farouk Busuulwa, managing director of Adventure Vacation Safaris, warned and argued: “AI, like any new technological innovation, will render some jobs obsolete, but it can’t replace human labour. Instead, new jobs will be created, especially content creation. Some routine jobs will disappear, and the person using AI will take your job. If you don’t learn to thrive with AI, you may be left behind; therefore, there is no excuse for not being proficient in AI.”
Edwin Danze, chief marketing officer at Next Media, argued that there are countless AI tools on the internet, with majority of them free of charge, and urged the audience to access and learn how to use them.
The congress and exhibition were sponsored by Psalms Food Industries, Post Bank, Nivana Water, HZG Group, Vision Group, Legend Events & Hospitality, Iguru Consult, NBS TV, Feed Future, National Coffee Research Institute, Uganda Revenue Authority, KCCA, Uganda Red Cross Society, FlexiPay, Rotary Club of Kitante, Centenary Bank and Housing Finance Bank.
The second day witnessed the seventh students’ entrepreneurship expo and a blood donation clinic by Uganda Red Cross Society and Uganda Blood Transfusion Services.
Students of Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Commerce, in teams of three to eight members, exhibited a wide variety of ideas, prototypes and innovations. Evaluators went around the stalls, posing questions, offering guidance and marks. Ngabirano counseled that entrepreneurship and AI, like anything else, are not devoid of risks.
“A business is like any relationship; there are risks and challenges there, and some are even self-inflicted. Patience and resilience are very important. Never start a business you have not researched about, and never stop researching once you are in the business because new challenges will appear especially when the business grows big.”
He advised entrepreneurs to motivate their staff and place them where their talents fall, and maintain discipline throughout the organisation.