Sama Identifies Kenya as an Ideal Machine Learning Investment Destination

Sama Vice President of Global Delivery, Annepeace Alwala

Kenya is set to experience a significant economic boost as Sama, the leader in providing data annotation solutions that power the AI models of the future, confirmed plans to enhance its Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) investments locally.

Banking on recent engagements with the national government players including the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) and the BPO Association of Kenya (BPOAK), confirmed its corporate plans to continue using Kenya as a global delivery site to de-risk machine learning (ML) models.

Speaking when she confirmed the corporate commitments, Sama Vice President of Global Delivery, Annepeace Alwala,said the firm has expanded its service offering to include data annotation solutions. 

“In Kenya, thanks to quality talent, Sama, is today a key player in the data annotation market providing best in class computer vision data labelling services. These services are delivered under the Sama data curation, annotation and validation business lines which we deliver for more than 25% of Fortune 50 companies who trust Sama to help them deliver industry-leading Machine Learning models,” Alwala said. 

She added: “The local BPO Industry is growing at a steady rate with the BPO Association of Kenya estimating that we will jointly create more than one million jobs against more than  $400 million USD in revenue. This makes the industry an important economic player with contemporary global solutions provision capacity.” 

The government’s supportive policies and significant investment in infrastructure are attracting several international companies seeking to establish operations in Africa. Other factors include Kenya’s strong labour force, competitive operational costs, and a favorable business environment resulting in job creation, economic growth, and enhanced global competitiveness.

Sama, which started its operations in Kenya in 2011, has since expanded its labour force to over 3,000 employees, primarily drawn from Kenya but with over 20 nationalities from several African countries. As a training-data company, Sama focuses on annotating data for artificial intelligence algorithms by providing computer vision solutions that power AI and machine learning models.

In Kenya, Sama offers a range of BPO services, including data validation, data curation, image and video annotation, content moderation, customer service support, data entry, software development, and 3D Point Cloud annotation forvariety of industries, including autonomous transportation, MedTech, agriculture, and retail solutions.

“Kenya has the potential to become a major player in the global BPO market, and we are excited to be a part of this growth. For over a decade, we have provided individuals who are most likely to be excluded from formal sector jobs. Through our purposeful impact hiring process, we connect individuals from low-income backgrounds, those who didn’t have the opportunity to pursue education beyond secondary school, and those who, prior to joining Sama, lived in extreme poverty with fair paying entry-level jobs,” Ms. Wendy Gonzalez, Sama Chief Executive Officer said. 

Over 25% of Fortune 50 companies including Google, NVIDIA, General Motors, Walmart, Ford, Microsoft, eBay, Ford, and Glassdoor, trust Sama to help them deliver industry-leading machine learning models. 

“Kenya’s skilled workforce, multilingual capabilities, and cultural compatibility are some of the key factors contributing to its competitive advantage in the global outsourcing landscape. As the sector continues to grow, we will work with the government and other stakeholders to help make Kenya an international BPO destination,” Ms. Gonzalez added. 

Over the last decade, Kenya’s BPO industry has continued to attract a surge of global businesses seeking to outsource their operations, creating numerous employment opportunities and driving economic growth. 

In 2020, Sama became the first AI data labelling company to receive B Corp Certification, formally committing to create positive impact for employees, communities, customers, and the planet. Its training and employment program were recently validated by an MIT-led Randomized Controlled Trial. 

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