Quarter Three Comes to a Close

Dear Friends of the African Observatory

Welcome to the latest edition of our newsletter! In this issue, we're excited to bring you up to speed on our activities during the third quarter of 2023.

Firstly, we are delighted to announce our new collaboration with UNESCO to support the implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI) across Eastern and Southern Africa.

Additionally, we have some fantastic opportunities that you can share with your networks and an upcoming event that promises to be both informative and engaging. Don't forget to explore some captivating reads we've gathered for you.

Stay connected with us as we gear up for an exciting end to the year.

Yours faithfully,

The African Observatory Team

Collaboration Announcement: The African Observatory Partners with UNESCO

We are thrilled to share some exciting news with you! We are embarking on a dynamic partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to support the Implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of AI. This research will advance the responsible development and use of AI in Southern and Eastern African countries, by tracking the state of readiness to implement the UNESCO Recommendation on Ethics in AI, identifying key capacity gaps, and defining a roadmap to strengthen ethical AI practices.
In 2021, UNESCO introduced the Recommendation on the Ethics of AI, establishing global principles and values for the ethical development and utilization of AI. The instrument was signed by 193 member states of UNESCO. TheRecommendation places a strong emphasis on safeguarding human rights and democratic values in the AI landscape. The collaboration with the African Observatory on Responsible AI encompassess implementation activities in  9 African countries: Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. A country-level expert from each of these countries has been identified as a focal point to lead country-level analysis, which will involve completion of the Readiness Assessment Methodology (RAM) developed by UNESCO to support implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on Ethics in AI. The country-level experts are:

1. Namibia: Kristophina Shilongo, Senior Tech Policy Fellow at Mozilla Foundation
2. Zimbabwe: Arthur Gwagwa, Senior Research Associate at Strathmore Law School
3. Malawi: Muti Michael Etter-Phoya, Chief Executive Officer at Logos Open Culture
4. Kenya: Diana Nyakundi, AI Research Fellow at Research ICT Africa
5. South Africa: Moremi Nkosi, AI Programme Lead at Research ICT Africa and Nokuthula Olorunju, Attorney and Research Fellow at Research ICT Africa
6. Mozambique: Dercio Tsandzana, Professor of Political Science at Eduardo Mondlane University

7. Rwanda: Claude Migisha, Digital Development Expert at Cenfri

8. Botswana: Keolebogile Rantsetse, Lecturer at Limkokwing University

9. Mauritius: Suraj Juddoo, Academic Head of School of Science and Technology at Middlesex University Mauritius

We invite you to follow along as this project unfolds. We'll be keeping you updated on the progress and outcomes of this project, which promises to shape the ethical landscape of AI in Southern and Eastern Africa. Together, we're paving the way for a future where AI technology respects human rights, making the world a better place for all.
Stay tuned for more updates!

African Observatory on Responsible Artificial Intelligence | Website and Policy Map Launch

On August 30, 2023, we unveiled a Policy and Governance Map alongside the launch of our redesigned website during an online webinar. The overarching goals of the African Observatory guide the objectives of this policy-mapping work, which seeks to provide an evidence-base to advance policies and practices that enable diverse African societies to safely and equitably harness the benefits of AI for achieving the continent's development objectives responsibly. Additionally, the map aims to facilitate peer learning among African policymakers and enhance access to policy resources for researchers.

At the webinar, the speakers; Dr. Paul Plantinga, Dr. Adekemi Omobutora, Dr. Elefelious Belay, and Ms. Viola Ochola, with moderation by Ms. Diana Nyakundi emphasized their respective perspectives on AI in Africa and underscored the significance of having a tool such as the Policy Mapping.


Webinar: “Artificial Intelligence and Africa’s Security Landscape”

Thursday, September 21, 2023

GMT: 12:00-13:15

Join the Africa Center for Strategic Studies for a webinar. The webinar will explore the security implications for Africa of the spread of AI. It will also enable participants to better understand AI’s capabilities, limitations, security implications, and to discuss what these implications imply for African government and security sector actors.  This webinar will be moderated by Dr. Nate D.F. Allen, Assistant Professor for Security Studies, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, and the speakers include: Ms. Nokuthula Olorunju, Research Fellow, Research ICT Africa, and Mr Abdul Hakeem Ajijola, Chair, African Union Cyber Experts Group. Register for the webinar here.


Call for Global Index Researchers

The Global Index on Responsible AI is inviting applications from country researchers to join the global task team responsible for collecting primary data. This index, designed as a rights-based tool, aims to offer inclusive and quantifiable measures for assessing how governments and stakeholders in over 120 countries are implementing responsible AI principles. By providing evidence-based benchmarks, it empowers government and community leaders to enhance national initiatives, promoting responsible AI use and ongoing progress tracking.

The application deadline for interested researchers is 27 September, 2023. Researchers from around the world are encouraged to apply and will collaborate with leading research institutions worldwide to facilitate regional data collection. Click here for more details on the qualifications and application process for country researchers.

Vacancy: Director of the Centre for Inclusive Digital Transformation of Africa (CIDTA)

Carnegie Mellon University is looking for a dynamic leader to become the Director of the Center for Inclusive Digital Transformation of Africa (CIDTA) at its Rwanda location, Carnegie Mellon University Africa (CMU-Africa). CIDTA is a $100 million partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and the Government of Rwanda, aimed at promoting inclusive digital growth in Africa. It includes various programs under three pillars: teaching and learning, knowledge creation, and entrepreneurship, involving a network of up to 10 universities across the continent.

This role is a fantastic opportunity to lead a pan-African initiative in collaboration with experts, with the potential for significant impact. The successful candidate will need to coordinate CMU's educational, research, and entrepreneurial strengths with partners, making it ideal for someone who is enthusiastic, collaborative, and hands-on. For more information click here.

Interesting Reads

Artificial Intelligence for Economic Policymaking

This report evaluates the potential of utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to shape inclusive and sustainable economic, financial, and industrial policies in Africa. It seeks to identify both existing and missing traditional and non-traditional data sources. Additionally, the report serves as a foundation for future efforts to bridge these data gaps and establish a framework for implementing a research initiative centered on effective models for economic transformation. Read more here.

AI Ethics in Higher Education: Insights from Africa and Beyond

This open-access book addresses the urgent need to incorporate the ethics of AI into higher education curricula, particularly for future AI developers in Africa and the rest of the Global South. It examines the current and prospective status of AI ethics education within local computer science and engineering programs. Additionally, they contemplate the practical consequences of various theoretical approaches to AI ethics. Read the full book here.

AI In Africa – Voice and Language Tools

This AI4D Africa Podcast series featured Kathleen Siminyu, Kiswahili ML Fellow at Mozilla. Kathleen is building Kiswahili voice tools at Mozilla. The discussion was about creating  datasets that contain more diverse voices and languages. Kathleen explains how including local communities in Natural Language Processing work, and expanding grassroots in Machine Learning and AI efforts across Africa will enable these systems to become more inclusive. Listen to the podcast 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.