Johannesburg is fast becoming Africa’s artificial intelligence (AI) tech capital, according to research released by the AI Media Group.

Launched in early 2018 the AI Media Group set out to create a new hybrid analysis, trade and advisory operation, says founder and CEO Dr Nick Bradshaw.

“One of our key goals was to assess and showcase the growing emerging market opportunity in the Africa region for this particular technology category.

“When we started this journey there was literally zero, or at best, fragmented data on the companies and people driving this sector in Africa. Over the last two years we have been building a much more detailed picture analyzing organisations that are active (or seeking to be active) in the African AI and 4IR tech ecosystem both locally, regionally and globally.”

He says some clear trends are now emerging:

* 1 500+ companies were analysed to establish a baseline data set;

* 1 389 companies had consistent data, of which 826 (60%) are based or headquartered in Africa;

* 74% of these are based in South Africa, 6% Tunisia 6% Nigeria 3% Kenya 2% Egypt 2% Ghana;

* 18 other countries make up the remaining 7%;

* Focusing on those based in South Africa, 67% are based in the city regions of Johannesburg and Pretoria while Cape Town accounts for 29%;

* 62% of all African companies active in the region are privately held;

* The vast majority (50%) have less than 20 employees.

* The last five years have seen a significant rise in the number of companies active in this sector, most likely due to the combined effects of; available funding, lower start-up costs, cloud/compute and open-source resource availability and increased commercial demand in multiple market verticals.

The research offers some initial conclusions:

* The top five most “active” countries are South Africa, Tunisia, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt – this broadly maps to the top tech investment hubs in the region as indicated by analysts such as Maxime Bayen & Max Cuvellier.

* There is a growing and dynamic AI/4IR tech ecosystem in Africa with South Africa accounting for the most frequent country of origin for companies in this sector.

* Johannesburg and the wider Gauteng region encompassing Pretoria appears to be the top contender for the “AI Tech Capital of Africa” based on the organisations assessed so far which may (in part) be explained by greater B2B economic demand for such products and services, a mature tech entrepreneur/supplier ecosystem and commensurate skills and job opportunities with both buyer and supplier side entities.