Africa Just AI Project

Project Duration

February 2021 – January 2024

Project Description

As artificial intelligence (AI) increasing becomes the central system for social and economic decision-making, it is imperative to start incorporating ethical systems within a rights-preserving framework. RIA’s intention with the three-year grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC ) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) is to serve as an AI Policy think tank in Africa working towards this goal by knowledge grounded in the historical and contemporary contexts of African countries, advocating for people-centred, beneficial AI innovation, and building local capacity and awareness – not only to develop AI systems, but also to govern them justly.

Current discourses on AI ethics are driven by multinational corporations, researchers and activists in the Global North. But the implementation of beneficial and rights-respecting AI requires more than this; it must be informed by international and continental human rights instruments and translated into national policy and regulation attuned to local contexts.

Digital systems no longer operate within clearly defined national jurisdictions. New global governance arrangements are needed that align with the global nature of the organisations controlling AI technologies.

While several global governance frameworks are emerging (e.g. the AI & Global Governance platform), Africa is largely left out of the debate or participates from a position of relative weakness. However, systems in Africa are unlikely to respond as expected to governance regimes developed for countries with more developed economies, human and infrastructural endowments, and democratic systems.

Our research agenda will focus on four main areas:

Advisory Panel Members

Professor Diane Coyle (Bennett Professor of Public Policy at University of Cambridge), Dr Oliyinka David-West (Lagos Business School), Dr Kevin Donovan (African Studies Centre, Edinburgh University) and Dr Alison Powell (Just AI Centre, Ada Lovelace Institute)