BotlhaleAI, a South African startup specializing in conversational AI tools for African languages, secured the prestigious Startup of the Year Award at the Africa Tech Festival awards held in Cape Town, South Africa. This notable recognition highlights the startup’s contribution to technological advancement and provides exposure to potential investors and partners present at the event.
Co-founder Thapelo Nthite expressed the team’s satisfaction with the positive growth witnessed in the business over the past year. He stated, “Our goal is to create AI solutions that enable accessibility for African people.”
Established in 2019 by Thapelo Nthite, Sange Maxaku, and Xolisani Nkwentsha, BotlhaleAI has garnered various accolades, including participation in the nVidia Inception Program, the Grindstone Accelerator program, and winning the DataHack4I Innovation award. The startup’s products have found adoption among leading South African companies such as MTN and Ubiquity.
Nthite revealed that BotlhaleAI plans to initiate fundraising early next year to scale its offerings across the continent. With increasing interest in artificial intelligence in South Africa, as indicated by Google Trends data, there is an opportunity for companies like BotlhaleAI to achieve significant scale.
In July 2023, responding to the growing interest in AI within the country, the South African Artificial Intelligence Association (SAAIA) was launched in collaboration with the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). The association aims to promote responsible AI adoption for commercial and societal benefit in South Africa, attract foreign direct investment, facilitate international market access for African tech companies, and showcase South African AI innovation.
Founding members of the association include prominent entities such as Google, the University of Johannesburg, the Western Cape Government, and the Gauteng Tourism Authority.