Paula Hidalgo-Sanchis from United Nations Global Pulse on how UN can help AI in Africa

June 25, 2019
Paula Hidalgo-Sanchis,United Nations Global Pulse at workshop “Toward a Network of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence for Development (AI4D) in sub-Saharan Africa”, Nairobi, Kenya, April 2019

What are you working on at the moment?

My name is Paula Hidalgo-Sanchis. I work as manager of Pulse Lab Kampala, which is one of the three labs of the UN Global Pulse network.

How do you perceive development and Artificial Intelligence?

AI frontier technologies, in general, can do to Africa what they can do to any other place in the world right now. That is the way I see it. I think that the challenges of our era, the challenges that are reflected on the SDGs, on the seventeen SDGs, are a reflection of the fragility of societies and environment these days on earth. I think we need new ways of doing things, and frontier technologies, including AI, offer us possibilities of looking at things differently and doing things differently.

What is your blue sky project in Africa?

What I would like to start doing is scaling up many of the numerous pilots that have happened in Africa in the last years. There have been very successful pilots conducted in small scale because support and the funding for those pilots were so small, but technology has been developed and has been proofed to be useful for many things. To support the response to infectious diseases, to support the integration of official statistics in alternative ways, to support incorporating the voices of the people, while we do development processes for them.

Many of these project integrated technology now is available. Scaling up those technology tools that were developed in partnership, in many times by the private sector, public sector and academia, continue with this partnership, also bringing civil society to the question. But I think really the secret is to scale up what has worked, with the right partnership and with inclusiveness in terms of the partnership.