Kenya Leads Other African Countries In Government Readiness for Artificial Intelligence

By  |  June 8, 2019

A study by the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and Oxford Insights has ranked Kenya top in Africa in regards to Government’s artificial intelligence (AI) readiness.

The report has placed Kenya at position 52 globally with Tunisia, Mauritius, South Africa and Ghana in positions 54, 60, 68 and 75 respectively. Other African countries that appeared in top 100 include Morocco, Uganda, Senegal, Tanzania and Rwanda which were ranked in positions 80, 91, 93, 94 and 99 respectively.

These countries have “well-documented developments in the technology sectors,” a part of the report read.

The Kenyan government was the first country on the continent with its allocation of two percent of the GDP for research and development activities (R&D). This is a strong indicator that Kenya plans to lead the pack in science technology and innovation in Africa.

“There have been a number of developments over the past year that points to a growing AI scene across the region. Local AI labs and research centres are appearing throughout Africa, such as the announcement in June 2018 that Google is to open their first African AI research hub in Accra, Ghana. Other examples include the University of Lagos, which launched Nigeria’s first AI hub in June 2018 to develop the country’s AI sector and skills,” a section of the report read.

“There are already numerous examples to show that AI is being applied to local problems,” said Isaac Rutenberg, a senior lecturer and the director of the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) at Strathmore Law School.

He further mentioned startups that have leveraged on technology to solve local problems.“From sexual and reproductive health monitoring chat bots in Kenya to smart farming in Nigeria, to the tracking of illegal fishing in West Africa by AI-powered drones, the potential for AI to aid localised technology solutions is emerging.”

The study revealed that the outlook for AI in Africa is positive in that there is growing interest in the topic. However, it highlighted the need for African governments “to develop coherent and strong policies around AI if they are to capitalise on these recent developments, and ensure their citizens benefit from the advantages of AI.”

Other parts of the world like Asia continue to reap the benefits of artificial intelligence. In Africa however, the dawn of AI carries with it a lot of fear including fear of massive lay offs that will greatly hamper the economy.

But despite the pervading notion that AI will be a rack and ruin to the African economy, a pensive planning can leverage it as a tool to help grow the continent’s economy.

Featured Image Courtesy: Medium

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