Kenya launches project to develop National AI Strategy in collaboration with German and EU partners

The Kenyan government has partnered with the GIZ GmbH to launch a project aimed at developing a National AI Strategy. Supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union, the initiative, known as ‘FAIR Forward – Artificial Intelligence for All,’ recognizes the potential of AI for Kenya’s digital transformation and the achievement of sustainable development goals

 Electronics, Hardware

The Kenyan government, in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union, has launched a project to develop a National AI Strategy. Titled ‘FAIR Forward – Artificial Intelligence for All,’ this initiative aims to harness the potential of AI to drive Kenya’s digital transformation and achieve sustainable development goals.

A meeting was held in Nairobi on 8 April 2024 to kick-start the project, bringing together around 70 key stakeholders from various sectors, including industry, academia, government, and civil society. The meeting had four main objectives: identifying gaps and opportunities within Kenya’s AI ecosystem, discussing existing initiatives and partnerships related to AI, defining priorities for the National AI Strategy, and gathering feedback on the strategy development process.

The meeting is expected to produce several important outcomes. Firstly, valuable insights from stakeholders will guide the strategy development process. A joint action plan will be created, outlining the next steps and assigning responsibilities. Additionally, critical stakeholder groups for continued engagement will be identified. Bodo Immink, GIZ Country Director, highlighted how this project represents a significant step for Kenya in utilising AI for sustainable development and social inclusion.

During the meeting, breakout sessions were conducted and divided into four groups. These sessions delved deeper into various aspects of Kenya’s AI ecosystem, including the impact of AI on the economy, the need for a robust policy and regulatory framework, talent development strategies, and the state of computing resources in Kenya. Discussions also focused on challenges and opportunities regarding Research and Development (R&D), data sets and systems, data collection methods, value extraction strategies, and stakeholder mapping.

The stakeholder mapping exercise aimed to identify influential stakeholders with a high interest in AI and understand their motivations. This exercise will help determine who should be involved in the development of the National AI Strategy and the reasons for their inclusion.

Kenya’s government started exploring the potential of AI in 2018 when it created the Distributed Ledgers Technology and AI Task Force to develop a roadmap for how the country can take full advantage of these technologies. The report published in 2019 notes that AI and other frontier technologies can increase national competitiveness and accelerate the rate of innovation, ‘propelling the country forward and positioning [it] as a regional and international leader in the ICT domain’. As actions that could help achieve this goal, the report recommends investments in infrastructure and skills development and the development of ‘effective regulations to balance citizen protection and private sector innovation’. 

Only a few African countries have either adopted AI strategies or are in the process of doing so. The map below shows which countries are involved in this initiative. These nations are exploring the potential impacts of AI on their development.