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AI4D Policy Centre – Research ICT Africa

Artificial intelligence (AI) applications are being built and applied in almost every area of social and economic life, but there is concern that if AI is applied without appropriate policies and safeguards, it could have far-reaching consequences on human rights, inequality, sustainability, and well-being. These risks increase where there is limited institutional capacity to govern and regulate AI to ensure the protection of fundamental rights. In a landscape of vastly uneven distributions of infrastructure, resources, and expertise, these restrictions could further limit the capacity for citizens impacted by AI to have a voice in making decisions. Policy and regulatory responses must be tailored to local conditions, and informed, but not driven, by experiences elsewhere.

The aim of this initiative is to ensure that policymakers have access to timely, high-quality policy research to support decision-making on responsible AI policy issues. It will focus on three priority areas: ensuring AI will contribute to building sustainable economies in Africa; developing principles, norms, and rules needed to detect emerging AI threats, reduce risks, and improve resiliency; and supporting data governance priorities that will ensure a foundation for responsible AI in Africa.

The project will build a network of AI researchers and digital policymakers across the continent to develop AI capacity and a multi-stakeholder framework. The research will include a critical analysis of issues affecting the global public good (such as data and cybersecurity) at the national and international level. It will unpack the existing interplay of power, interest, and institutions, the socio-economic consequences of AI, and the role of global governance and influence of the African context through a legal and rights-based analysis.

This project is part of the four-year AI4D Africa partnership between the Swedish International Development Agency and IDRC to support policy, innovations, and expanded leadership that will spur responsible AI development in Africa. The vision of the program is one where AI empowers Africans to have a more inclusive, prosperous, and greener future.

Project ID
Project Status
38 months
IDRC Officer
Ruhiya Seward
Total Funding
CA$ 1,247,800.00
South Africa
Education and Science
Artificial Intelligence for Development
Institution Country
South Africa
Project Leader
Alison Gillwald
Research ICT Africa