Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Inclusive Innovation: Examining Contemporary AI Initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa

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  • Africa is increasingly becoming a market for foreign global technology companies to implement artificial intelligence (AI) projects. Most of the AI research centers, serving as subsidiary companies of major big technology companies, are developing innovative AI solutions or products to solve some of the most challenging and critical problems in the sub-Saharan African region. This research seeks to understand better which groups within this region are involved with AI innovations. This research helps find answers to the research focus, which is, “How inclusive are AI initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa?” The research explores why inclusion gaps exist and what factors contribute to these inclusion gaps in the region. Using a qualitative research design, this study interviewed four key informants who are AI researchers working with subsidiary AI research and development centers in sub-Saharan Africa, advocates of AI inclusion in the region, and founders of local AI initiatives. The findings from this study indicate that there is an intention of making AI initiatives in the region more inclusive. Still, there are also factors impeding the achievement of this goal. Some of the factors identified through this study include the high cost of innovating for low-income groups compared to the low cost of innovating for affluent communities. Other factors include the non-existence of comprehensive national AI policies or strategies in sub-Saharan Africa that ensure AI initiatives are more inclusive in their design and implementation of AI products. Finally, this paper reflects on future directions for improving on making AI initiatives more inclusive in sub-Saharan Africa.

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  • Type of Item
    Research Material
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International