Mapping policy and capacity for artificial intelligence for development in Africa

Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques are poised to enhance productivity, innovation, and help countries across sub-Saharan Africa achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. However, as with any technology, the potential transformative benefits come with challenges that need to be managed and moderated. For example, applied AI can have ramifications on already precarious livelihoods, threaten basic human rights, and undermine democratic processes.

Earlier research established that unlocking AI’s potential and mitigating its prospective harms are key for advancing AI policy that promotes responsible development and deployment. This project seeks to improve understanding of AI policy and capacity in Africa to support responsible AI for development, and it will act as a baseline for future AI programming in Africa.

The project will map AI use, policies, and regulations across Africa. Following this mapping exercise, there will be “deep dives” in four or five countries to explore current AI policy and to understand the needs of policymakers with respect to AI. There will also be more in-depth thematic papers focused on key AI themes such as video surveillance, AI and the future of work, AI and gender, biases of African AI, and climate change. The capacity work will provide funding for three machine-learning doctoral students placed at universities in Francophone Africa, East Africa, and southern Africa. This will test the mechanisms and viability of subsidies for supporting masters and doctoral students.

Project ID

109307

Project status

Active

Duration

38 months

IDRC Officer

Matthew Smith

Total funding

CA$ 570,000

Countries

Kenya, Senegal, South of Sahara, South of Sahara

Program

Networked Economies

Project Leader

Naila Govan-Vassen

Institution

Research ICT Africa

Institution Country

South Africa

Institution Website

http://www.researchictafrica.net

Project Leader

Isaac Rutenberg

Institution

Strathmore University

Institution Country

Kenya

Project Leader

Vukosi Marivate

Institution

University of Pretoria

Institution Country

South Africa

Institution Website

http://www.up.ac.za