EXCLUSIVE: Aiculus, An AI Company, Is Looking To Double Down On Its Botswana Presence

Founded in 2017 by Dr Omaru Maruatona, a Motswana PhD-holder based in Australia, Aiculus is a technology company specialising in securing APIs using the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI).  In 2021, the company won the Australian Cybersecurity Scaleup of the Year award for its product.

Recently, the company has hit several milestones including designing an AI engine that powers a graphic design platform, designing a national digital payment system, and building a new API security architecture for a digital bank.

Most importantly, the company also announced that it will be increasing its presence in the Botswana market as it looks to scale its solution, which has had customers in Australia, Southeast Asia, the US and Africa to Botswana.

BW TechZone spoke to Dr Maruatona to get more details about the company's entry into the Botswana market and what impact it intends to have over the next few years.

Please share more about Aiculus and your mission

Aiculus is a technology company with a presence in Australia and Singapore. We are a cyber-AI company, meaning we primarily specialize in cybersecurity and AI. We have our own AI-based API security product and also offer consulting services in AI, Cybersecurity, Fintech and Innovation. So we are a technology vendor and also provide consulting services.

Our advantage is the collation of our cultural background, expertise, and professional experience in Australia, Southeast Asia, USA and Africa. We see ourselves as a bridge between what's happening technologically in developed countries and what's coming in developed countries. As Batswana, we understand the African culture and context. So we believe we're better suited to efficiently serve our customers in Botswana and across Africa.

What’s the reason behind doubling down on your presence in Botswana?

The whole approach for setting up in Botswana is not just to look at Botswana in isolation, but to look across Africa. We know Africa is vast and we have traction in Botswana through our customer base and strategic partnerships in the country.

Taking that into consideration, it makes sense to start in Botswana and gradually plot our way into the continent. Firstly, we want to efficiently serve our clients here and give them great value, whether it's in AI, cybersecurity, fintech or innovation. Secondly, we want to contribute to the creation of employment, economic empowerment and knowledge transfer in the country. We want Batswana to create AI solutions for local companies and entities and for export beyond our borders.

How will you measure your impact on the Botswana market in the next 3-5 years?

Aiculus Africa is about hitting important milestones that translate to a positive impact in Botswana and across Africa. These include how many companies we’ve been able to help successfully embark on a transformational project in AI, Cybersecurity, Fintech and Innovation, how many jobs we created in the process, how many skills we imparted to our Botswana talent, and how we’ve changed the Botswana technology landscape.  

We believe that Botswana should pursue some level of sovereign capability to develop and maintain modern-day technologies. If a startup in California can build a product like ChatGPT which is used by millions of people, what is stopping us?  Why not an AI that was developed by Batswana? Why not in AI that is hosted locally? As the Data Protection Act which encourages data to be resident in the country comes into effect, it’s going to be critical for organisations to have their data domiciled here in Botswana. Once the data is resident locally, there are multiple opportunities which can be drawn from this data, we want to contribute to that mission. So you see, the agenda of a knowledge-based economy for Botswana is something we’re looking to contribute to.  

Anything else you would like to add?

We come with open arms and look to collaborate with anyone who shares our vision of making Botswana a technology hub. We also have huge ambitions which I have already laid out and we won’t be able to achieve them on our own.

So to businesses and entities in the private and public sectors out there, if there are opportunities where we can partner, let's talk and see what we can do together. Although it's sometimes quicker to buy a ready-made product and use professionals from abroad to build solutions, it's also important to invest in our own capabilities to build technology products. As Aiculus, we believe we bring a good mix of the two. 

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