African ministers adopt continental AI strategy

By Guardian Correspondent , The Guardian
Published at 04:40 AM Jun 20 2024
Illustration of Artificial Intelligence
Photo: Forbes
Illustration of Artificial Intelligence

AFRICAN Information and communication technologies (ICT) and communications ministers have approved the Continental Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy and African Digital Compact, which aim to accelerate Africa's digital transformation by unlocking the potential of the new digital technologies.

From June 11 to 13, 2024, more than 130 African ministers and experts virtually convened for the 2nd extraordinary session of the specialised technical committee on communication and ICT to discuss digital transformation across the continent in the face of rapid evolutions fuelled by AI technology and applications.

The Continental AI Strategy advises African governments on how to use artificial intelligence to accomplish Africa's development goals and people's well-being, while encouraging ethical use, avoiding potential hazards, and capitalising on opportunities.

The strategy identifies key priorities and actions to ensure that Africa fully benefits from the opportunities offered by AI.

Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, stated at the start of the ministerial session that Africa is determined to harness new technologies for Africans' well-being and to develop a continent-wide approach for this technology to address Africa's complex and most pressing challenges while minimising risks.

"For us Africans, AI presents tremendous opportunities. It is a driving force for positive transformational positive change as well as economic growth and social progress," he said.

He added: “Adapting AI to African realities is critical. AI systems should be able to reflect our diversity, languages, culture, history, and geographical contexts. As we aim to create an inclusive AI ecosystem and a competitive African AI market that is adapted to our realities and meets our ambitions, we believe examining and approving this strategy will provide a common vision and path to accelerate responsible AI innovation and adoption in Africa.”