We often look to Silicon Valley for all things tech, but African innovators are also making waves here on the continent, such as the founders of Botlhale AI.
Sange Maxaku, Thapelo Nthite and Xolisani Nkwentsha founded Botlhale Al in March 2019. The artificial intelligence company aims to increase the application of AI systems in South Africa.
Despite the proliferation of technologies that allows speech-based human-computer interactions, they are mainly available in English, making it impossible for those who do not speak the language to use it. Botlhale AI sought to change this.
“This means that people who speak African languages are missing out on new technologies that could aid and simplify their daily lives,” said the founders.
The start-up offers a multilingual voice-enabled, no-code, conversational AI bot builder for its customers.
“We think that language should not be a barrier to accessing digital services. In fact, we believe it should be an enabler for people to access and engage with their service providers effectively.”
Here is what Botlhale AI’s bots can do:
1. Understand text and speech in South African languages, so users can send voice notes.
2. Run on multiple channels at the same time, allowing users to have a presence on WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram and other platforms.
3. Automatic human hand-off when they don’t understand what the user is saying.
4. Provide users with analytics based on real customer conversations.
In 2020, Nthite was named one of Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans. Botlhale AI was also one of 25 high-growth start-ups hand-picked by Grindstone, a Cape Town-based accelerator, for a year-long programme in 2022.