Call for


February 5, 2021 by 23:59 (EDT)


Policy and regulation, African-based principles, AI ethics, automated decision-making, inclusion, AI advancing gender equality and diversity, etc.


1 year

Funded by

IDRC and Sida






KES 1,972,885 – 3,111,181 annual salary




Paid program


IDRC and Sida are seeking applications from individual researchers to undertake a 12-month Professional Development Award (PDA). The recipient will be based in  IDRC’s Nairobi office and will receive additional support to advance research focusing on responsible AI for development in Africa, while also contributing to the development and management of the AI4D Africa program. 

The Artificial Intelligence for Development in Africa (AI4D Africa) program envisions a future where AI empowers Africans to have a more prosperous, inclusive, and greener future. It is a partnership between the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Launched in 2020, the 4-year program will support the development of an artificial intelligence (AI)-ecosystem engaged in responsible, African-led, AI for development and application that contributes to sustainable development outcomes such as better financial security, health, governance, and inclusion. More specifically, the initiative will target funding towards achievement of the following three specific objectives:

  • Catalysing the responsible development and scaling of AI innovations that solve development challenges;
  • Increasing evidence-informed AI policy and regulations that support responsible AI development at sub-national, national, regional levels; and
  • Building the talent and capacity that supports the local design, development, and deployment of responsible AI4D innovations at the appropriate scale.

Key Dates

January 4, 2021
Call for proposals release date
February 5, 2021
Proposal submission deadline
February 12, 2021
February 19, 2021
Final selection of candidate

For further assistance preparing your proposal, please refer to IDRC guidelinesIDRC guidelines for proposal development.

Eligibility and requirements

AI4D Africa seeks applications from candidates with the following qualifications:

  • Minimum of a master’s degree in computer science, machine learning/artificial intelligence, mathematical sciences, neuroscience, communication studies, science and technology studies, or a related field;
  • At least two years’ experience working in a development organization and/or conducting research in a related field;
  • Demonstrated interest in research on AI, innovations and technologies, and their application for international development;
  • Strong research, analysis, and writing skills for different audiences (academic, policy, public);
  • Experience in considering equity, gender and inclusion in AI;
  • Superior verbal and written communication skills in English; fluency in French considered an asset.


The Professional Development Award (PDA) recipient will undertake a 12-months paid program of research focusing on responsible AI for development in Africa. The PDA role provides a unique opportunity to enhance research skills and gain a fresh perspective on crucial development issues.

These one‐year, paid, in-house programs of training and mentorship allow research award recipients to pursue their research goals while gaining program management experience in an IDRC-led program.

Based at IDRC’s Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya —

  • The recipient will work under the mentorship of a program officer.
  • Recipient will be considered a full member of the AI4D Africa team.
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50% Research Project —

  • The successful candidate will allocate 50% of their time for a research project relating to the above topic(s) under the guidance of a program officer.
  • The awardee will be expected to prepare a research plan, provide progress updates during the year, and present their findings at the end of the year.
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50% AI4D Africa Program Operations —

  • The other 50% of the successful candidate’s time will include contributions to AI4D Africa program operations.
  • This may include synthesizing and disseminating project outcomes and results; participating in program development; monitoring, and evaluation; events coordination; and preparing reports.
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Research Areas

For this call, AI4D Africa is seeking a PDA to conduct research in the area of artificial intelligence and sustainable development. Example areas of focus could be:

  • Policy and regulation to support the development of responsible AI for development;
  • Social and ethical impacts of specific AI innovations, such as in agriculture, climate change, education, health care, etc.;
  • Bias and inclusion in AI systems in Africa;
  • Automated decision-making and accountability; 
  • Understanding African-based principles of ethical or responsible AI;
  • How to foster to the development, use and governance of human-centred responsible AI systems in Africa; and
  • How AI technologies can advance gender equality, diversity, and inclusivity in Africa.

Eligible Countries

This call is open to Kenyan citizens, or citizens that have a work permit valid for full-time work in Kenya, having completed a Masters degree program at a recognized university in the last five years. The PDA is expected to join the team in March 2021 for a one-year contract. Depending on the situation with COVID-19 at that time, the selected candidate may be expected to start their position virtually.

The selected candidate shall have to be ready to work in person in IDRC’s Nairobi office once this is permitted.

The annual salary range for the position is 1,972,885 – 3,111,181 KES (Kenyan shillings).

Some travel and research expenses are also supported, up to a maximum of CA$15,000.

How to Apply

Applicants must prepare a complete application that includes their resume, a cover letter as well as a short research proposal. Resumes should be succinct, no more than 3 pages. In the cover letter, applicants should clearly outline their qualifications for this position and explain how this opportunity will advance their career goals.

The research proposal should be no more than 3 pages and include the following information:

  • A description of the purpose of the research
    Proposed methodology
  • Timeline that demonstrates a feasible approach
  • Ethical considerations

Applications must be submitted by email to [email protected] no later than 23:59 EDT on February 5, 2021.

Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

We thank all applicants for their interest; only shortlisted candidates will be advised by email.

Ready and Eligible?

Apply Now!