Harnessing ethical AI in Africa: insights from Paul Langlois-Meurinne

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As we step into 2024, the African continent is poised at the brink of a technological revolution, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) adoption set to soar across pivotal sectors including healthcare, finance, education, and agriculture. Against this backdrop, CNBC Africa's Flora Lemouki engages with Paul Langlois-Meurinne, CEO and co-founder Optimetriks, shedding light on the burgeoning innovation synergies between France and Rwanda. 

This dialogue opens a window into the fertile ground for Franco-Rwandan partnerships, promising to propel forward Africa's position on the global innovation stage.

Embracing mobile money in Africa: a leap towards economic efficiency and transparency

According to Paul, FieldPro by Optimetriks CEO, highlighting the transformative impact of mobile money, this technology revolutionizes transaction digitization, enhancing efficiency and fostering transparency. It builds lender confidence through guaranteed capital return, regulates to prevent abuses, and serves as foundational infrastructure for business transactions. 

‘It's good that you have more capital that goes into funding the credit for individual and businesses. And now any companies that will develop a product will know they can use as the infrastructure, mobile money to get paid. So to do cash transfer.’
Paul Langlois-Meurinne, CEO

Mobile money facilitates efficient cash transfers, bulk payments, and, notably in Uganda, significantly boosts utility collection rates through prepaid services. This innovation positions previously unviable businesses for profitability, marking a significant leap in financial innovation originating from Africa.

Harnessing AI for real-world solutions in Africa

In the dynamic landscape of 2024, artificial intelligence (AI), particularly generative AI, dominates global discussions. Within this technological frontier, Optimetriks emerges as a pivotal AI-based entity. CNBC Africa's Flora Lemouki delves into how Optimetriks is leveraging AI to address tangible challenges across Africa, offering a glimpse into innovative solutions tailored for the continent's unique market needs. 

Transforming retail with AI

Optimetriks leverages AI, particularly through image recognition, to revolutionize retail operations. By capturing shelf images via smartphone, their AI technology automatically identifies products, enabling real-time analysis of crucial KPIs like numerical distribution and shelf share. 

This innovation not only streamlines data collection for sales and marketing professionals but also enhances efficiency in supermarkets and neighborhood stores.

Empowering human connections

AI's application significantly reduces manual data entry time, shifting focus towards nurturing human relationships. Sales representatives can now spend more time understanding business dynamics and engaging with retailers, fostering more meaningful interactions and training opportunities.

‘So it means that when a sales representative which goes to a shop, instead of spending 10 or 15 minutes in putting data on his phone, he will just take a picture and spend the rest of the time basically in the human relationship, trying to understand how is the business going for this person, how to convince the retailer to take on maybe more product to train him. And I think that's really what AI should be about is that you free the human from the kind of mechanical work and you leave more time for the human relationship, the human intelligence and understanding. ‘

Optimizing logistics

The second key use of AI for Optimetriks involves logistics, particularly in route optimization for delivery with FieldPro App. With the rapid urbanization and traffic challenges in African cities, AI offers solutions to identify the most efficient routes, considering factors like fuel consumption and customer prioritization. This strategic application ensures operational efficiency, addressing real-time challenges like traffic and customer engagement priorities.

‘Utilizing AI, we've harnessed the capability to map out the most efficient routes for vehicles, considering both fuel consumption and time constraints. This is particularly critical given the unpredictable traffic conditions. AI's prowess extends to analyzing purchasing patterns, enabling the prioritization of key customer visits. This strategic approach, powered by AI algorithms, factors in real-time data like traffic flow, ensuring operational efficiency for business owners. It's a testament to how AI can streamline complex logistical challenges, making every business move count.’ 

Optimetriks' approach exemplifies AI's potential to solve real-world problems by enhancing operational efficiency and prioritizing human interaction, showcasing a future where technology and human intelligence coexist harmoniously for greater impact.

Harmonizing human intelligence and AI for a better future

In a world rapidly evolving with artificial intelligence (AI), the dialogue between humanity and technology becomes crucial. AI, seen as an assistant, excels in automation, freeing humans from mundane tasks to focus on complex analysis and judgment, particularly in business relationships. Embracing AI presents a significant opportunity for Africa, akin to the revolution brought by cloud computing. 

However, it's vital to ensure AI models are trained on diverse datasets, including African data, to avoid biases and ensure relevance across contexts. 

‘In the African context, it's critical to recognize the potential for AI to mimic the transformative impact of cloud computing, particularly regarding big data and infrastructure. The unity across the continent to ensure AI models are trained on diverse African datasets is paramount. This focus on localized data training is essential, given AI's current reliance on textual information, to avoid perpetuating biases and to ensure the technology remains relevant and beneficial within the unique African landscape.’

This approach not only fosters technological inclusivity but also positions African companies to benefit from the digital wave, ensuring they are not left behind in the global tech landscape.

Ethical AI: bridging technology and humanity

The ethical application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is paramount in the advent of new technologies. Optimetriks takes a proactive stance on this by ensuring AI's use upholds privacy, mitigates bias, and maintains customer transparency. Positive investments from tech giants in Africa signal a bright future, yet the potential for bias and misuse underlines the need for stringent data protection and ethical guidelines. 

‘In AI, there have been some positive signs of interest and investment by companies like Google or Amazon or Facebook investing in Ghana, Kenya, some countries in Africa, which is quite positive! Of course, AI can introduce some bias. But when it comes to data protection, we've seen recently more and more regulations around the use of data and privacy

This is the dual nature of AI: a tool for enhancing efficiency in business, especially for SMEs, but also a potential vehicle for manipulation if not carefully regulated. This balanced approach underlines the importance of ethical considerations in the AI-driven future.


At Optimetriks, we recognize the pivotal role of AI in shaping the future of business, particularly in Africa. Our approach to integrating AI, as articulated by Paul, emphasizes not just the technological advancements but the ethical implications of deployment. We are committed to leveraging AI to enhance operational efficiency and customer engagement, while meticulously ensuring the ethical use of AI.

This means prioritizing data privacy, mitigating biases, and maintaining transparency with our customers. As we navigate the complexities of AI, our goal remains to harness its potential responsibly, fostering innovation that respects the values and needs of the communities we serve.

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