Africa’s Expansion of AI Surveillance — Regional Gaps and Key Trends

Research ICT Africa is carrying out a mapping exercise, gathering empirical data on computer vision and surveillance across 14 countries in Africa. In so doing, our purpose is to facilitate evidence-based and informed policymaking in the context of emerging surveillance systems that are changing the ability of states and corporations to monitor citizens. The study has preliminarily identified a range of deployments, from facial recognition systems, safe city projects and cloud computing infrastructures, to smart policing initiatives that are meant to achieve various goals. This policy brief list surveillance initiatives in each country according to who the key partners and controlling entities are. However, we also look at oversight mechanisms such as AI governance structures, freedom of expression and data privacy.

  • AI surveillance is still an emerging trend in Africa but already many governments and companies are implementing facial recognition systems, safe city projects, cloud computing infrastructures, and smart policing initiatives.
  • AI surveillance tools have the potential to exacerbate existing inequalities if not deployed with proper governance mechanisms and adequate safeguards.
  • AI surveillance use in Africa is not transparent. Surveillance technologies are not transparently procured or operated, and emphasis is placed on security or smartness of technology, without any risk mitigation frameworks in place to protect people’s rights particularly safeguarding their data.

Suggested citation

Mudongo, O. (2021). Africa’s Expansion of AI Surveillance — Regional Gaps and Key Trends (Policy Brief 2021, No. 3). Research ICT Africa.