Case Studies on AI Skills Capacity Building and AI in Workforce Development in Africa

The project conducted case studies on AI deployment across the African continent, and the associated policy and governance implications. It explored AI in relation to four thematic areas – biometric identity, computer vision and surveillance, skills capacity and workforce development, and gender. This report covers the Skills Capacity-building and Workforce Development theme. Research for each thematic area began with a broad mapping exercise to search for examples of AI initiatives across Africa, followed by deeper analysis of a selection of the identified examples. The themes were examined in terms of the potential contribution of AI systems to public service delivery specifically and socio-economic development generally, the challenges AI systems present for African countries, and the role of both public and private sector actors. In the context of Research ICT Africa’s (RIA’s) ongoing work on digital and social inequalities, the research was framed by concerns about whether the appropriate systems and mechanisms are in place to deliver benefits and safeguard against the harms and risks associated with AI, especially for the most marginalised populations. The potential positive impacts of AI technologies were examined against the social, economic, political, and historical realities within case study countries as well as in a global context; with particular attention to the interplay amongst the state, markets, and citizens in the delivery of public services, especially those that are partially or fully provided by private sector actors. Social justice and human rights lenses were applied to reflect on the legal and ethical frameworks required to safeguard human rights and ensure data and privacy protection as well as data justice. These perspectives feed into recommendations for the design of policies that enable beneficial, inclusive, and rights-based AI in Africa.