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  Sam Altman, the prominent figure associated with OpenAI, made an appearance at an exclusive event held at the Muson Centre in Lagos, Nigeria, on May 19, 2023. The event drew a distinguished crowd consisting of tech executives, investors, and startup founders. Divided into two parts, the event comprised a Q&A session and a meet and greet with Altman himself.
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One attendee, Sudhanshu Gaurav, Co-founder of Incash, expressed enthusiasm about the event, stating, “It was a great event. Looking forward to integrating AI into our startup and cannot wait to see how it makes a huge difference to the African Tech space in the next few years.” While the official reason for Altman’s visit to Nigeria has not been disclosed by OpenAI, sources indicate that Nigeria may be Altman’s sole stop in Africa before he heads to Europe on the same day. Additionally, there have been rumours that the company is actively seeking developers in the country. Olusola Ayoola of RAIN Technologies suggested that Altman’s visit is likely focused on understanding how OpenAI can meet the needs of the Nigerian market. OpenAI’s presence in Africa has not been without controversy. The company faced criticism for its treatment of Kenyan workers during the development of ChatGPT, including issues of unfair compensation and layoffs. It is possible that OpenAI is aiming to improve its public relations and address these concerns within the continent.
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However, OpenAI may encounter challenges in Africa, as Meta, another tech giant, has been embroiled in lawsuits on the continent, primarily related to labour disputes. Reports emerged of inhumane working conditions for workers contracted through Sama, a company associated with Meta. OpenAI might be using this opportunity to establish a stronger foothold in Africa while Meta navigates its legal challenges. One potential motive for OpenAI’s visit to Africa could be expanding its business operations on the continent. Several global platforms, such as Salesforce, Air India, and Duolingo, have already integrated with ChatGPT. However, there have been relatively few African platforms that have followed suit. OpenAI might be seeking partnerships with African platforms that would benefit from integrating with its API, positioning itself as the go-to AI company in Africa.
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While past visits by major tech companies to Africa have often been driven by profitability, the exact purpose of OpenAI’s visit remains a mystery. It is possible that the company aims to explore various opportunities, address concerns, and expand its presence in the African market. By engaging with local stakeholders, OpenAI can potentially build lasting relationships and contribute to the growth of AI technology in Africa. Featured Image Source: Wired
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This article was first published on 22nd May 2023


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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