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April 12, 2021

Since the launch of the AI4D Africa program, we have run a total six calls for funding (with more still in the pipeline). The goal of these calls is to find partners in the African AI research and policy community and collaborate with them on leveraging the power of AI through high-quality research, responsible innovation and talent strengthening. 

We are excited to share with you the first group of partners. These partners will receive funding over time and will work towards achieving these goals.

AI4D Africa Scholarship Manager 

The AI4D Africa scholarship program aims to strengthen the next generation of AI leaders, academics and innovators. These future leaders will focus on advancing responsible AI innovation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Funding recipient: African Centre for Technology Studies

The African Centre for Technology Studies will support the administration and execution of two scholarship activities: a Ph.D. Scholarships and the Emerging Scholars Program. It will aim to strengthen African Public universities’ capacity to support leading multi-disciplinary research in responsible AI, with a particular focus on institutions in low and lower middle-income countries.

Specific strategies will be taken to increase the diversity of perspectives in the field of responsible artificial intelligence in Africa, increasing the representation of women and linguistic minorities in cutting edge technology development.

Visit their website for information about the scholarships available.

AI4D Africa Responsible AI Policy Research Centers

AI applications are being built and applied in almost every area of social and economic life. There is concern however, that if AI is applied without appropriate policies and safeguards could have far reaching consequences.

As part of the AI4D Africa program, we will fund policy think-and-do tanks that will engage in AI policy research. These centres will inform and facilitate the development of public policies and regulations that promote the inclusive benefits of AI, while mitigating the potential costs and risks.

Funding recipient: Research ICT Africa

Research ICT Africa's Logo

As AI increasing becomes the central system for social and economic decision-making, it is imperative to start incorporating ethical systems within a rights-preserving framework. RIA’s intention with the three-year grant is to serve as an AI Policy think tank in Africa. They will work towards this goal by knowledge grounded in the historical and contemporary contexts of African countries, advocating for people-centred, beneficial AI innovation, and building local capacity and awareness.

Their research agenda will focus on three main areas:

  • Beneficial AI and sustainable development
  • Security, cybersecurity and trust, which is the link to data (protection)
  • AI/algorithmic governance

Funding recipient: CIPIT

CIPIT's logo

The Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) will support a policy research agenda for Eastern Africa that will explore how to enable and implement responsible AI that is developed and implemented to be ethical, rights-based, inclusive, and sustainable. CIPIT will focus on a few key themes: understanding African AI, of exploring how to build inclusive and participatory approaches to AI, and of understanding and addressing power differentials.

CIPIT’s policy agenda will aim to increase collaboration amongst AI stakeholders in Africa and globally, increase awareness of AI and specific issues in broader policy agendas, increase gender awareness, and to enhance the adoption and implementation of responsible AI policy by local and regional governments.

Funding recipient: Niyel Network

Niyel Network logo

Artificial Intelligence in French-speaking Africa is at a precarious stage and remains virtually unexploited. Institutions such as AFRIA (Agence Francophone pour l’Intelligence Artificielle) are working on the implementation of public policies that stimulate digitalisation and the transformation of AI challenges into development opportunities. This is a step forward, but it is not enough to push governments to give more importance to AI and its solutions.

The Initiative for the Development of Artificial Intelligence (IDIA) is a research project that aims to address the lack of data and evidence on Artificial Intelligence in Francophone Africa. It will contribute to the adoption of responsible AI in Francophone Africa through research that informs national and regional strategies and policies. It will provide concrete avenues for public policies and strategies in Francophone Africa that take into account all the issues around responsible AI, through research conducted by committed and complementary institutions and in collaboration with decision makers.

To do this, the project will establish a francophone network of researchers working on AI policy, work to build the capacity of research teams and policy makers in francophone Africa, and support research teams in producing contextual, targeted and demand-driven research with input from policy makers.

The evidence produced and the engagement of policy makers upstream of the project will be key to influencing the development and adoption of responsible AI policies and strategies. To support this change, research elements and products (intermediate and final) will be positioned on the pan-African and international stage, policy documents will be produced and published, and civil society will be engaged to ensure equitable participation from all segments of society.


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Featured image: Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash