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Strengthening policy and research bridges to enhance responsible artificial intelligence policy in Africa

NEPADPolicyResearch

ABSTRACT

Applications based on artificial intelligence (AI) are profoundly impacting the world, with uses in almost every aspect of social and economic life. Fueled by the increasing availability of computational power, improved connectivity and data, AI applications can improve automated tasks once reserved for humans. They can translate languages, diagnose diseases, hold conversations, automate driving, act as a tutor and much more. Such applications offer innovative, and often cost-effective and scalable, ways to promote human development through improved food systems, enabling higher-quality education systems and tackling pressing health and climate challenges for many low- and middle-income countries in Africa. The resulting impact stands to be massive, if not revolutionary.

Alongside the enthusiasm for and potential of AI, there are concerns that its application may lead to increased inequalities. Local capacity to design and develop the technologies, as well as the research capacity to understand the links between responsible AI and achieving development outcomes, are critical. There is a need to support activities that help bridge emerging policy research with the innovation strategies that are now emerging.

This project, implemented by the African Union Development Agency (AUDA), will support the co-creation of a model policy to enable governments to effectively harness AI for development purposes. The model policy will be based on African AI policy research and the African Union High-Level Panel on Emerging Technologies. Ratification of the policy by the heads of state of AU members will be sought in 2022. In addition, AUDA will act as a policy bridge, supporting capacity-strengthening and knowledge-translation activities aimed at key stakeholders, such as policymakers, enhancing connections with the private sector and supporting increased networking with academia and science systems.

This project is part of the four-year Artificial Intelligence for Development Africa (AI4D Africa) partnership between the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and IDRC. The mission of the program is 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 strengthened talent.

LOCATION

South Africa, African Union Development Agency – NEPAD

TOTAL FUNDING

CA$ 342,800