Considerations for African Democrats about AI

Democracy in African countries is on two opposing trajectories, advancing in some countries, regressing for others, with a range of contentions underway in local settings. AI is being recruited in service of both trajectories. To make sense of recent trends around how AI products and systems are shaping the prospects and practices of African politics, a wide lens is required. Analysis of what AI is and how it could impact the exercise of African democracy must consider the nature of the particular product, its institutional and social affordances, the policy space and regulatory environment. Global dynamics should also be considered. Each of these comes to shape how AI is deployed and used in any particular setting. 

The purpose of this report is to give African democrats a contextual and political understanding of AI and technology, especially those that are not working in the fields of science, technology and innovation policy. Among the frictions points covered in the report are the topics: 

  • platform injustices and multinational Big Tech firms; 
  • media freedom and misinformation;
  • generative AI and bias;
  • tech dependency and the geopolitics of decoupling;
  • neocolonial data collection relationships;
  • data sovereignty and national computing;
  • AI surveillance and state security apparatus.