The Artificial Intelligence for Development in Africa (AI4D Africa) program is dedicated to a future where Africans across all regions create and use artificial intelligence (AI) to lead healthier, happier and greener lives.


2020 Launch

4-Year Program

20 Million Canadian Dollars

IDRC, SIDA Funders

Why Ai4D?

Like the internet, artificial intelligence (AI) systems are rapidly becoming a new layer of infrastructure with transformative potential. Fuelled by the increasing availability of computational power, improved connectivity, and big data, AI applications offer exciting possibilities for contributing to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through spurring new start ups, improving food systems, enabling higher quality education systems and tackling pressing health and climate challenges.

As with any widely adopted technology — especially one as powerful and potentially pervasive as AI — the benefits come with risks that must be managed and mitigated. It can reinforce structural inequalities and bias, perpetuate gender imbalances, threaten jobs, and facilitate oppressive government surveillance. The time to write the future of AI in Africa is now, as policies and practices put in place today will shape the benefits and harms of AI in the decades to come.

To contribute to these efforts, Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Sweden’s government agency for development cooperation (Sida) launched the Artificial Intelligence for Development in Africa (AI4D Africa) program in 2020. This four-year, CAD 20 million, partnership seeks to address the above challenges through supporting African-led development of responsible and inclusive AI. The program promotes excellence in applied research and applying AI technologies in the service of solving development challenges and improving livelihoods for those living in poverty.

VISION A continent that harnesses the potential of technology, leveraging its local resources and know-how, for the public good.

MISSION To improve the quality of life for all in Africa and beyond by partnering with Africa’s science and policy communities to leverage AI through high-quality research, responsible innovation, and strengthening talent.

Our Three Pillars InnovationPolicyTalent

In line with its vision to shape AI in Africa as a force for good, AI4D Africa supports activities and target funding towards three critical pillars:

Innovation networks to address Africa’s development challenges

AI4D Africa will support five, pan-African innovation research networks each focused on a key development issue. These are: Agriculture & Food Systems, Education, Climate Action, Sexual & Reproductive Health, and Gender/Inclusion. Each network is coordinated by an African institution playing the role of the network hub. Each hub is expected to develop and support a network of researchers and practitioners working on AI-based innovations.

Policy research think-and-do tanks to establish responsible AI

The policy stream supports two AI4D research to policy think-and-do tanks in Anglophone Africa and one policy network in Francophone Africa that engage in AI policy research to inform and facilitate the development of public policies and regulations that promote the inclusive benefits of AI, while mitigating the potential costs and risks.

Amplify African AI talent.

We amplify the talent of African innovators and institutions through supporting multidisciplinary AI4D university labs and the African AI4D Scholarships program.

Multidisciplinary AI4D Labs

We aim to strengthen African public universities multi-disciplinary explorations of responsible artificial intelligence for development as a long-term, sustainable approach to developing and nurturing local talent that responds to the talent requirements of the public and private sector.

The African AI4D Scholarships

The African AI4D Scholarships support the next generation of PhD students, post-doctoral students, and early career academics focused on responsible AI4D and seek to ensure that women and linguistic minorities across Africa have access to equal opportunities to advance their leadership in machine learning.

Call for Proposals

We regularly update the Calls section with Calls for Proposals. Keep checking and submit your application where you or your organization is aligned to the requirements of the Call.

See Calls