Advancing Responsible AI in Africa

Dear friends of the African Observatory

Welcome to our June newsletter, where we bring you the latest updates and insights from the world of AI and technology in Africa. In this issue, we are thrilled to announce that the research report we worked on with UNESCO last year, entitled Landscape of AI Use and Policies in Southern Africa, has just been published! In this report, we review how countries across Southern Africa are using and responding to AI.

Next, we highlight the recent AfricAI Conference held in Kigali, Rwanda, and share valuable insights on the sessions that were organized by the African Observatory on Responsible AI. The conference provided a platform for researchers, experts, policy makers and enthusiasts to explore various aspects of AI in the African context. We were thrilled to host two sessions during the conference, focusing on AI ethics, policy, and governance. Read more on these sessions below!

Additionally, we are thrilled to introduce Nawal Omar, our woman in focus for the month of June, as well as our newest team member at the African Observatory, Moremi Nkosi. We invite you to read the full interview with Nawal to gain insights into her expertise and perspectives.

In this issue, we also share exciting opportunities from our networks for AI researchers. Firstly, we encourage input in our GPAI/CEIMIA project which looks at the role of government as a provider of data for AI. Fill out the questionnaire below to provide your input. Secondly, the South African Conference for Artificial Intelligence Research (SACAIR) is inviting submissions for its upcoming conference, specifically for the Responsible and Ethical AI track.  Further details are provided below.

To keep you up to date, we recommend two must-read articles. The first, published by MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), "Building Robust RAI Programs as Third-Party AI Tools Proliferate", and the second is a comprehensive report, "Ghosts in the Machine: Addressing the Consumer Harms of Generative AI", by the Norwegian Consumer Council addressing the consumer harms of generative AI. Both articles provide valuable insights into the responsible and ethical use of AI.

Thank you for your continued support, and we hope you find this issue of our newsletter informative and engaging. Stay tuned for more updates and inspiring stories from the world of AI in Africa.

Best regards,
The African Observatory on Responsible AI Team


The African Observatory on Responsible AI published a research report, "Landscape Study of AI Policies and Use in Southern Africa”. The report presents the findings of an extensive review of use cases of AI in Southern African countries across four priority sectors, Education, Health and Well-Being, Labour, and Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability together with an assessment of policy and legislative instruments regarding AI and digital transformation. These sectors are aligned with the UNESCO Recommendations and the policy areas outlined in the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap.


The AfricAI conference took place from the 12th - 14th of June in Kigali, Rwanda. The African Observatory on Responsible AI hosted two sessions at the conference. The first was the Meta Bursaries panel, where the eight winners of the  Meta Bursaries for emerging African researchers in AI Ethics and Policy presented their research.

The second session that we organised was a panel discussion which consisted of four of the country experts who will be doing research on the UNESCO Recommendations on Ethics of AI for southern Africa. Dr. Rachel Adams, AI Programmes Director at Research ICT Africa, served as the moderator for the session and the four country experts on the panel were Diana Nyakundi (Kenya); Claude K. Migisha (Rwanda); Kristophina Shilongo (Namibia) and Moremi Nkosi (South Africa).

Their inputs covered a number of areas focusing on what the respective governments were doing with regards to legislative and policy frameworks to address AI issues, the risks and challenges associated with AI and the ethical dilemmas. It is evident that all four countries are at different levels of development and progress with regards to ensuring the responsible and ethical use of AI, as well as promoting and applying the standards outlined in the UNESCO Recommendations on the Ethics of AI. For instance, Rwanda has set up regulatory sandboxes focusing on innovations in agriculture, financial services and healthcare, while South Africa and Namibia, have not made significant progress towards developing and implementing a national AI strategy/policy, although there are various ongoing efforts to finalize this.

The ethical dilemmas emerging from the rapid spread uptake of AI are similar across all four contexts - these include fragmented and sometimes protracted legislative development processes, heterogeneous skills and expertise among policy makers, oversight institutions and legislators. There is also a diverse range of social and economic challenges in these countries that require due consideration when considering AI and its use, these include high youth unemployment, poverty, income inequalities and the poor inclusivity of women and other marginalized groups.

The panel discussion closed with input from our partner Dr Paul Plantinga, from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), who shared intervention on Policy Action Network. Dr Plantinga discussed the policy map he has developed for the African Observatory. The policy map works to (1) support policy learning exchange between African countries on AI and related topics, (2) increase understanding about existing and emerging policies that are relevant to AI, (3) raise awareness and improve access to policies by researchers interested in AI topics. The Observatory’s Policy & Governance Map is a key resource for achieving these aims, in two main ways (i) supporting knowledge exchange and peer-learning amongst African AI policymakers and advisors; and (ii) providing African academics and researchers with a resource for more easily finding and accessing AI-relevant policy and legislation. The intention here is to support comparative policy analysis and tracking of AI policy trends.


This session took place on Tuesday, 13 June 2023, was chaired by Kristophina Shilongo, Senior Tech Policy Research Fellow, Mozilla Foundation. The session consisted of insightful presentations from: Diana Nyakundi (AI Research Fellow at Research ICT Africa), Hanani Hlomani (Research Fellow at Research ICT Africa), Halifet Aye (Lecturer at Wollo University), Irene Nandutu (PhD Candidate at Rhodes University), Mabona Machaba (Research Fellow at University of Johannesburg), Denish Azamuke (PhD Candidate at Makerere University), Bridget Chipungu (PhD Candidate at University of Pretoria), Raymond Onuoha (Technology Policy Fellow at Lagos Business School). Stay tuned for blog posts from each of our emerging AI researchers where they’ll be sharing their experience of the AfricAI conference in Rwanda, as well as being Meta Bursary recipients.


“When we are motivated to change the realities and shape a better future for our people and all individuals, we become more capable of making significant contributions to our respective fields.”

We are pleased to present our first woman in focus for 2023, Nawal Omar ! Nawal is an accomplished professional in the field of African technology policy research. Currently, Nawal holds the positions of Researcher and Information Systems Manager at Research ICT Africa, where her work significantly contributes to the production of high-quality research. Her specialization lies in Ethical AI, data justice, and digital inequality, which allows her to provide valuable insights and recommendations that shape responsible technology policies in Africa. Read the full interview with Nawal here.


Moremi Nkosi recently joined RIA as the Senior Programme Lead: AI. He previously held the position of Senior Programme Manager at the Human Sciences Research Council’s Democratic, Capable and Ethical State Division. He is a highly experienced policy specialist and project manager, with a particular emphasis on health and on technologies. He has recently led the management and coordination of several research projects in the areas of smart urban agriculture, climate change, scenario planning, disaster risk preparedness and management, review of the Public Service Commission, and the implementation of e-Participation (e-Government) initiatives to improve service provision within selected South African municipalities. In his spare time, he enjoys working on his family farm and riding his motorcycle.


Call for Inputs

As part of a project with GPAI/CEIMIA to explore the role of government as a provider of data for AI, we are looking for input on a short questionnaire to understand current practices in countries around the world. We are particularly interested to hear from experts based in African countries.

Deadline: 14th July 2023.

Call for Papers: SACAIR Opportunity 2023

The Organising Committee of the South African Conference for Artificial Intelligence Research (SACAIR) is extending an invitation for the submission of full papers and extended abstracts specifically in the Responsible and Ethical AI (Philosophy and Law) track. These submissions will be considered for presentation at the conference. This year, the conference will be hosted by the University of Johannesburg and will take place at 26 Degrees South in Johannesburg, South Africa, from the 4th to the 8th of December 2023. The overarching theme of the conference is 'Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence'.

Since its inception in 2019, the SACAIR conference series aims to foster research in the field of Artificial Intelligence and create a platform for researchers and practitioners from both academia and industry to convene and exchange cutting-edge advancements in the field. The conference welcomes significant contributions across all major areas of Artificial Intelligence, encompassing theoretical, applied, and practical aspects. It also encourages submissions that promote interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches.

Important deadlines:

  • Abstracts Submission: 14 August 2023
  • Submission of Full Papers: 28 August 2023
  • Acceptance notification: 9 October 2023
  • Camera-ready papers:16 October 2023
  • Springer Submission: 23 October 2023
  • Conference: 6 - 8 December 2023


MIT Sloan Management Review in Collaboration with BCG: Building Robust RAI Programs as Third-Party AI Tools Proliferate

The MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) conducted a global survey and interviewed C-suite executives and AI experts to understand the implementation of Responsible AI (RAI) in organizations worldwide. Their previous report highlighted the significance of organizational responsibility for successful RAI efforts. The current report focuses on how organizations address risks associated with internally and externally developed AI tools, such as generative AI. The report was published on June 20, 2023 and it was authored by:

Ghosts in the Machine: Addressing the Consumer Harms of Generative AI

The Norwegian Consumer Council has released a comprehensive report titled "Ghost in the machine - Addressing the consumer harms of generative AI." This report delves into the various harms, legal frameworks, and potential paths to address these issues. Simultaneously, the Norwegian Consumer Council, along with 14 consumer organizations representing the European Union and the United States, collectively called upon policymakers and regulators to take action in response to the report's findings. Read the full report here.

Our Social Media Handles

We have created our social media handles and you can now follow us on our Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts to stay up to date with our latest publications, events and news.

Have Something to Share?

This year we plan to send out mailers to our network on a more frequent basis. Please do get in contact with us via email should you have any ideas for collaboration with us, or if you have any blog posts you would like us to promote through our platform. We are also interested in any events, opportunities, research or research projects you would like for us to share within our growing African Network on Responsible AI