InstaDeep CEO, Karim Beguir, has unveiled plans for the startup to open an office in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. The London-based AI company, founded by Beguir, who hails from Tunisia, aims to establish a foothold in Kigali to advance AI research across Africa.
This announcement took place at the Deep Learning Indaba, the annual meeting of the African machine learning and AI community, dedicated to enhancing AI on the continent.
The Kigali office will initially employ six professionals dedicated to AI research in Africa. Beguir expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “Expanding our presence in Kigali aligns with Rwanda’s emergence as a leader in shaping the future economy. We are excited to share this development with the vibrant community of African AI researchers and developers attending the Deep Learning Indaba.”
Presently, InstaDeep maintains a workforce of over 240 individuals spanning various locations, including Tunis, London, Lagos, Dubai, Berlin, Cape Town, Paris, Boston, and San Francisco.
Arnu Pretorius, the head of AI research in Africa at InstaDeep, emphasized the potential that Kigali presents for the company to strengthen AI across Africa and develop sustainable solutions for the continent. He noted Rwanda’s prominent role in AI policy, exemplified by its hosting of the International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR), a top global AI conference, for the first time in Africa. Establishing an office in Kigali will enable InstaDeep to create more opportunities for African AI talent from across the continent.
Rwanda has garnered recognition as one of the top ten African nations prepared for AI advancement. In April 2023, Rwanda introduced a national AI policy with six key areas of focus, encompassing AI literacy, infrastructure, data strategy, AI integration in public and private sectors, and ethical implementation. To implement this policy over the next five years, Rwanda has allocated approximately $76.5 million.
Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s Minister of ICT and Innovation, emphasized the pivotal role of the policy in advancing the country’s AI ecosystem and contributing to national development objectives. Rwanda aspires to become the primary destination in Africa for the development and experimentation of reliable AI technologies tailored to the African context.
Earlier this year, German biotech firm BioNTech acquired InstaDeep in a substantial deal worth £362 million, with an additional £200 million contingent on InstaDeep’s future performance. This acquisition positions BioNTech to incorporate evolving AI capabilities into its diverse operations, including research, drug discovery, manufacturing, and deployment.
It’s noteworthy that this isn’t BioNTech’s first significant venture in Rwanda; the company initiated the groundwork for its inaugural manufacturing facility in Kigali last year, supporting the production of mRNA vaccines within Africa.