African analytics accelerates, turning data into gold
In 2021, Egyptians Nour Altaher and Omar Mansour recognised a gap in Africa’s data analytics market and founded Intella. Their startup aimed to address the underrepresentation of Arabic in speech-to-text technologies.
By leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data sets, Intella set out to process the nuances of Arabic dialects, offering cloud-based solutions to transform contact centre voice recordings into useful business analytics.
Intella’s journey has mirrored the quickening evolution of Africa’s data analytics industry. Beginning with a $1m raise in 2022, the startup significantly advanced its growth trajectory by securing $3.4m in a funding round in late 2023, led by HALA Ventures and Wa’ed Ventures, part of Saudi oil giant Aramco.
This funding round is not just a success for Intella but also a marker of the increasing momentum in Africa’s data analytics sector, highlighted by a surge in record investment this year, and a spike in professional course enrolments across the continent.
“We realised that the majority chunk of data lies within spoken words and not within actual tangible data points. So, this is when we decided to actually tap into speech tech in order for us to be able to curate datasets to gather data and to be able to analyse it for the Arabic language,” says Altaher.
“The main motivation is that if we don’t build data sets for our language, no one is going to do that for us. Arabic has always been left behind, which is something that we take to heart at Intella and it is our vision to bridge the gap between global AI advancements, and underdog languages starting with Arabic,” she added.
Intella has significantly expanded its scope in audio analytics, moving beyond traditional call transcription to encompass features like summarisation, sentiment analysis, topic extraction, and call scoring. Their use of Arabic dialects is deepening, with Intella Voice achieving a 95.7% accuracy rate across 25 dialects, Altaher said.
This accuracy persists even in complex scenarios where dialects such as Najdi, Hejazi, Gulf, and Faifi are mixed within a single conversation.
“I always say people do two things. They eat a lot, and they talk a lot, but with all of this voice and talking if you cannot capture it and turn it into text you cannot analyse it. So, there is no data analysis for voice only. The first step is you turn this voice into text, and then you can mine it for valuable insights,” says Altaher, who led the firm’s move from Africa to the kingdom this year, as Saudi Arabia becomes a magnet for tech companies across the region.
The company offers a range of products tailored to various sectors. Intella Contact Centre Intelligence serves call centres with transcription and analysis tools, while Intella Surveys provides real-time insights for businesses. The broad application of their technology extends to government bodies, media agencies, and educational institutions, reflecting the versatility and utility of their AI solutions.
With a significant Arabic-speaking population in Africa of over 150m, and the influence of Arabic in the Swahili language, Intella is strategically expanding its reach across the continent.
Source: African Business