AI and African development: A new renaissance?

  • 26 January 2024
  • Online

Together with the Learning Planet Alliance, the Club of Rome hosts this annual Ubuntu Learning Circle. Here, members of the Circle, across Africa and beyond, with various academic and professional backgrounds convene for dialogues and discourses. Against the backdrop of the New Narratives of Hope paper published by the Club of Rome, this is an open discussion about the goals for African development. Since the paper’s publication in 2020, there has been a pandemic end and the rise of generative AI, notably through ChatGPT and Dall-E, which casts a different light on the future of African development. This discussion poses incisive questions about the world’s youngest continent grappling with the opportunities and challenges of this post-Covid 19 era.

Key questions to be addressed:  

  1. How to make new technologies more inclusive of Africa, and how to correct the course of exclusive development as we embrace AI and other emerging technologies? e.g. including African languages in generative AI tools
    How can we promote and delegate African technologies within African societies?
  2. Given the research showing the inherent biases built into new technologies, is it possible to embed cultural sensitivity into generative AI and other new technologies? In other words, can we create new technologies that don’t reproduce old prejudices of their makers? (Link to Goal of An Africa with a strong cultural identity). How can existing tech be transformed via contextual learning?
  3. Is African infrastructure developing fast enough to support the development of African AI?
  4. Can we shift the narrative? Do African tech companies and start-ups have the potential to sway the ongoing industrial revolution?
  5. What role(s) can African women play in this transition period? What role(s) are they playing?
  6. What can we do to further this agenda?
  7. What is the learning process and the key education and research questions associated with the development of Africa-made contextual technologies as well for other global technologies being introduced and dispersed among African communities?

Speakers include: Nolita Mvunelo, Program Manager at The Club of Rome, Raad Sharar, Program Coordinator at The Club of Rome, Reika Preiser, Associate Professor at Stellenbosch University, Tariq Lawal, Youth Fellow at The Learning Alliance and Katherine Brown Project Manager at The Learning Alliance.

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