McKinsey launches QuantumBlack AI in Africa

McKinsey & Company has announced the expansion of QuantumBlack to its offices in Johannesburg, Casablanca, Lagos, and Cairo.

QuantumBlack uses artificial intelligence (AI) and technology with strategic thinking to help McKinsey’s clients unlock growth through enhanced efficiency. 

McKinsey acquired QuantumBlack, a London-based company with roots in Formula 1, in 2015. QuantumBlack now encompasses the company’s entire analytics division. 

“The breakneck pace at which AI is changing and evolving is challenging investors and business leaders to understand the AI ecosystem and its impact on their businesses,” said Alexander Sukharevsky, global leader of QuantumBlack. 

QuantumBlack has a team of over 1,300 practitioners, specialising in data science, data engineering, design, and industry expertise.

McKinsey wants to use QuantumBlack in Africa to enhance efficiency in key sectors, particularly mining, agriculture and electricity.

One of the central aims of launching this technology in Africa is to make AI and its impact on business understandable.

Further, the company wants to ensure that Africa should not be left behind in developing and implementing AI systems.

McKinsey research estimates that AI could contribute about $13 trillion of incremental global economic impact by 2030, with AI likely contributing about 9% to Africa’s GDP by 2030. 

If delivered, this impact would be comparable with other general-purpose technologies throughout history, such as the printing press and the Internet.

Globally, there has been an exciting increase in investment in AI over the past four years. 

According to executives surveyed in McKinsey’s State of AI report, over 50% of organisations spent more than 5% of their budget on AI in the last year, a 12% increase on 2018 figures. 

63% of organisations also said they would increase investment in AI over the next three years.

Umar Bagus, leader of McKinsey Digital and Analytics in Africa

“Our methodology of hybrid intelligence combines the power of data to unearth insights that work hand-in-hand with creativity, empathy, and experience,” said Umar Bagus, leader of McKinsey’s Digital and Analytics practice in Africa. 

“We have seen steady progress in AI adoption in our work with many leading African healthcare institutions, banks, insurers, retailers, mining, and chemical organisations.”

The survey shows that 57% of respondents in emerging economies, including Africa, reported adoption, up from 45% in 2020. 

The lack of skills and adequate education remains one of Africa’s biggest barriers to widespread AI adoption. 

About 60% of emerging market respondents highlighted that attracting tech talent such as software engineers, data scientists, and designers remains a top challenge, with about 40% finding it even more difficult now than three years ago. 

Reskilling is now a common alternative to hiring, with more than 40% of emerging market responders saying they are reskilling to gain more AI talent.

“There is enough momentum for African institutions to leapfrog and transcend limitations and challenges while delivering real-world impact for Africa’s people, investors, and the environment,” said Sukharevsky.


Top JSE indices