The Rockefeller Foundation invests in satellite data and AI to accelerate economic development and climate resilience in Africa

New $5.5 million collaboration with e-GUIDE and Atlas AI launches Kenya, Nigeria, Rwandaand Uganda catalyze investments in agriculture, energy and transport infrastructure

NEW YORK and NAIROBI, August 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Rockefeller Foundation has announced a new $5.5 million collaboration with e-GUIDE and Atlas AI to accelerate economic development and promote investment in climate-resilient infrastructure across sub-Saharan Africa. Leveraging satellite data and machine learning technologies, this three-year effort will produce unprecedented insight into community wellbeing through a groundbreaking digital platform, which draws on new research and accessible datasets. to the public covering the link between agriculture, energy and transport. sector development conditions. Initially covering Kenya, Nigeria, Rwandaand Ugandathe platform will provide policymakers with in-depth, cross-sectoral insight into areas where new infrastructure development can help mitigate community vulnerabilities and promote economic opportunity, ultimately aiding efforts to prioritize and sequence infrastructure. investments more effectively in these key sectors.

“While data science has been used to improve individual development projects, we have yet to unlock its potential to improve system-level development – ​​which is critical as efforts to drive change in the energy, agriculture and transport must be integrated in order to make the opportunity universal and sustainable,” said Zia Khansenior vice president of innovation at the Rockefeller Foundation. “We are excited about the potential of this collaboration to give policymakers, investors and operators more dynamic situational awareness of local conditions and help them improve those conditions for the people they serve.”

Launched in 2018 by the Rockefeller Foundation alongside University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst, Colombia University, Carnegie Mellon Universityand the Colorado School of Minese-GUIDE (Electricity Growth and Use Initiative in Developing Economies) aims to apply data science to electricity demand forecasting in energy-poor emerging economies.

“We want to develop tools to measure how infrastructural developments such as roads, power systems and agriculture lead to economic development,” said Jay TanejaAssistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Amherst Universityand principal researcher of the project. “We want to understand which combinations result in the most widespread and rapid economic development, primarily in sub-Saharan African countries.”

e-GUIDE, which has successfully operated AI to predict electricity consumption by Africa and measure the productive use of energy in africa agricultural sector, is joined in the effort by Atlas AI, a Silicon Valley-based public benefit tech startup. Established in 2018 by the Rockefeller Foundation and a team of Stanford University professors, Atlas AI uses data from a range of planetary sensors as well as deep learning technologies to monitor changes in global economic and societal well-being. Atlas AI has extensive experience building hyperlocal socio-economic datasets, predictive analytics models, and software platforms to guide complex policy and investment decisions.

“For more than a decade, the scientific community has been demonstrating the use of data from new sensors such as satellites as well as AI technologies to measure specific development indicators such as staple crop performance, accumulation of household wealth and the pace of electrification,” said Abe TarapanCEO of Atlas AI. “Real-world investment decisions don’t fit as well into either of these buckets, and we’re thrilled to be part of this pioneering consortium to unlock a more dynamic and practical understanding of how limited resources can better promote improved livelihoods in local communities.”

e-GUIDE and Atlas AI have also partnered with the Kigali Collaborative Research Center (KCRC) in Rwanda leverage KCRC’s leadership in research and innovation in energy systems, data science, artificial intelligence, transportation and climate change across Africa.

Urgent action required:

  • Even though the share of africa carbon emissions account for less than 3% of global emissions, it is expected to bear the brunt of the economic impact of climate change according to the African development bank.
  • According to world Bankcurrent efforts to build resilience to climate change in africa food systems are effective, but fail to address the problem at scale.
  • Hundreds of millions of people lack access to safe and reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, hampering the development and climate resilience goals of many governments.
  • There is a lack of generalized data on africa transport infrastructure limits investment in resilient solutions in a sector that is responsible for around a quarter of all global emissions.

In response, the platform developed by e-GUIDE, Atlas AI and KCRC is the result of thousands of hours of computation on petabytes of data covering electrification, agriculture, transport and human settlement activities. , breaking the silo-centric approach prevalent in many traditional sector-specific development data platforms.

“We start in Nigeria, Rwanda, Ugandaand Kenya,” continued Professor Taneja“because these four countries represent places where we already have strong relationships and are already collaborating on projects. We look forward to expanding the initiative’s coverage to other countries in the years to come.”

In addition, an advisory board is being created which will initially be comprised of four independent experts with deep expertise in one or more areas of interest.

About Atlas AI

Atlas AI is a predictive analytics platform that enables organizations to optimize performance and extend reach by investing in underserved communities around the world. Founded by a team of Stanford University scientists in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and with support from Airbus Ventures and Micron Technologies Inc., we leverage a range of planet-scale datasets and the latest advances in artificial intelligence to measure socio- economic factors such as population demography, access to infrastructure, household purchasing power and crop yields. We use this proprietary data to analyze, monitor and forecast regions of growth and untapped potential to offer insight into where organizations can grow most successfully and where investments can best drive economic progress. Visit

About eGUIDE

The Electricity Growth and Use in Developing Economies (e-GUIDE) initiative aims to transform the approaches used for planning and operating electricity infrastructure in developing regions. We build scalable, cross-national, verified data measurement and analysis techniques using real-world electricity consumption and infrastructure data. We partner with electric utility companies to develop our techniques, deploy them at scale, and build data and analytics capabilities in the electric industry. The initiative is funded by $5.8 million in grants from the Rockefeller Foundation. Learn more:

About the Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy founded on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology and innovation to enable individuals, families and communities to flourish. We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal. Our goal is to develop renewable energies for all, to stimulate economic mobility and to ensure equitable access to healthy and nutritious food. For more information, subscribe to our newsletter at and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.

SOURCEThe Rockefeller Foundation