This article was published by The Future Society in Advisory Services, Policy Research, The AI Initiative on April 30, 2022

National AI Strategies for Inclusive & Sustainable Development

Main insight

The Future Society is supporting development of 3 National AI Strategies in Africa with key public sector partners, GIZ and Smart Africa. These programs build capacity through AI policy, regulatory, and governance frameworks to support countries’ efforts to harness AI responsibly to achieve national objectives and inclusive and sustainable development goals.

Advisory ServicesPolicy ResearchThe AI Initiative
April 30, 2022
5 min read

In 2020-2022, TFS is supporting the development of 3 National AI Strategies in Africa with key public sector Ministries, GIZ, and Smart Africa: Rwanda’s National AI Policy, Tunisia’s National AI Strategy and Ghana’s National AI Strategy. Based on extensive local stakeholder consultations, outputs are tailored AI governance documents and frameworks, including policies, implementation plans, SWOT analyses of local AI ecosystems, AI ethical guidelines, and recommendations for the establishment of program offices to drive implementation. The projects are capacity-building to support countries’ efforts to harness AI responsibly to achieve national objectives and inclusive and sustainable development goals.

In August 2022, TFS with Ghana’s Data Protection Commission, GIZ FAIR Forward and Smart Africa held the third high-level public sector consultation workshop to review the draft recommendations. These cross-ministerial and cross-sectoral policies aim for responsible AI adoption in Ghana for sustainable and inclusive growth.

In May 2022, TFS and partners led stakeholder consultation workshops in Tunis and Accra to support the development of Tunisia’s and Ghana’s National AI Strategies. The TFS project teams include Nicolas Miailhe, Yolanda Lannquist, Sacha Alanoca, Tarek Latrous, Derrydean Dadzie, Robert Okine, Nicolas Guetta Jeanrenaud and Badrul Chowdhury. Learn more about the two workshops here.

May 2022 public sector workshop in Accra, Ghana for Ghana’s National AI Strategy.
Project partners: Ministry of Communications & Digitalisation, GIZ FAIR Forward, The Future Society and Smart Africa
August 2022 public sector validation workshop in Accra for Ghana’s National AI Strategy.

AI and digital technologies offer developing countries significant opportunities and risks in a ‘more to gain, more to lose’ paradigm: AI can be harnessed to accelerate industrial and technological sectors, but also has the capacity to exacerbate existing social and economic inequalities. Our work helps build frameworks of ‘enabling’ policies and practical implementation roadmaps for emerging and developing countries to utilize artificial intelligence for their development objectives while mitigating important risks. 

In 2019-2020, in collaboration with the World Bank’s Digital Development Practice, The Future Society launched a research & advisory project on Policy Pathways to Harness AI for Development.  The project first analyzed over 20 national AI policies to map how governments around the world are using AI to support their development objectives and make progress towards tackling each of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The 2021 summary reporHarnessing Artificial Intelligence for Development in the Post COVID-19 Era: A Review of National AI Strategies and Policies can be read on the World Bank Digital Development website or in PDF here.

This research work has been subsequently amplified through TFS’ collaboration with the OECD AI Policy Observatory, Global Partnership on AI (GPAI), UNESCO, Internet Governance Forum, the World Government Summit, Mo Ibrahim Foundation and other international organizations and governments. Our guidance to governments about responsible artificial intelligence supports a broad range of countries beyond those leading in AI today.

Between May and August 2021, The Future Society collaborated with the bank Société Générale, its 16 branches in Africa, and the civic tech Bluenove to up-skill Société Générale employees’ understanding about the risks and benefits linked to the adoption of AI in the banking sector. The three workshops organised throughout the summer cumulated in the production of a manifesto for the responsible use of AI and data. See: Leveraging Responsible AI in the Banking Sector in Africa .

Case Project: Developing Rwanda’s National AI Strategy 

In 2020-2021, The Future Society supported the Government of Rwanda in developing Rwanda’s National Artificial Intelligence Policy in collaboration with Ministry of ICT and Innovation (MINICT), Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), GIZ FAIR Forward and Smart Africa. The development and adoption of AI has the potential to dramatically improve lives and livelihoods across Rwanda, as well as make concrete progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. However, socio-economic opportunities are inextricably linked to risks that require foresight and mitigation, as well as adherence to defined ethical principles throughout the entire implementation lifecycle, from strategy inception to operationalization.

A comprehensive national AI policy framework that includes ethical guidelines and an implementation strategy fit for the local context can serve as a powerful roadmap enabling Rwanda to harness AI’s socio-economic benefits and mitigate its risks. Our approach involves in-depth analysis, sectoral and cross-sectoral, of the local strengths, needs, opportunities, challenges, policies (e.g. Rwanda’s Data Revolution Policy, Vision 2050, Smart Rwanda Master Plan, etc.) and meaningful engagement of local stakeholders. Ultimately, the strategic aim is to accelerate AI adoption in key sectors and public services in order to achieve clearly-defined objectives linked to public impact, economic & employment growth, sustainable development, and capacity-building in Rwanda.

Related events:

The Future Society @ Stakeholder consultation workshops for National AI Strategies in Tunisia and Ghana (May, 2022)

The Future Society @ Ibrahim Governance Weekend 2021: Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for Development in Africa During and After the Pandemic

Briefing on Opportunities and Challenges of AI in Healthcare in Africa featured in the 2021 Ibrahim Forum Report – Africa & COVID 19: One Year On

Learn about our project supporting Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority, and GIZ FAIR Forward to develop Rwanda’s National AI Policy

The Future Society @ Internet Governance Forum 2020: AI for SDGs and National AI Strategies

The Future Society @ Stakeholder Workshop for Rwanda’s National AI Policy 2021

The Future Society @ Internet Governance Forum Rwanda 2020

The Future Society @ UN Data Forum 2020: Leveraging Data and AI to Achieve the SDGs while Moving Toward a Global Data Access Framework