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Artificial Intelligence: starting the policy dialogue in Africa

December 21, 2017

Emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies present a tremendous set of opportunities and challenges to human well-being. Understanding the implications of AI is critical to ensuring that everyone is able to leverage AI’s potential benefits, while minimising its potential risks for society, including its potential to exacerbate existing inequalities.

The Web Foundation has previously published research on the impacts of AI for low- and middle-income countries. This regional brief adds to that research, exploring existing academic and commercial AI activity underway in various African countries.

Focusing on Nigeria and South Africa, Africa’s two largest economies, and Kenya, the largest economy in East Africa, we mapped current AI activities in each country and discussed their potential impacts with local experts. We used these insights to develop a number of recommendations for governments who want to initiate policy discussions in this space and start to shape the development of AI for the public good.


This paper was written by Ana Brandusescu, Juan Ortiz Freuler, and Dhanaraj Thakur. With thanks to the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society for their support and to all interviewees.