By John Walubengo
The 2023 Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF), now in its 16th edition, closed on a high note when the Principal Secretary in charge of ICT and Digital Economy, Eng. John Kipchumba Tanui graced the occasion and joined an esteemed panel in an evening fireside chat titled “Harnessing the Power of AI and Emerging Technologies.”
In more than one hour, the panel chaired by the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet), Mr Ali Hussein Kassim explored the risks and opportunities that Artificial Intelligence (AI) presented within the Kenyan and African context.
The PS observed that AI should be treated as a tool and is here to stay. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us, the stakeholders in the room and beyond to plan around how to leverage its potential while minimising its risks.
Specifically, the PS urged participants to take on the challenge of proposing new policies, regulations, and industry best practices that would position Kenya as a key player in the digital economy in general and in particular its AI sub-sector.
He observed that Africa’s role in AI seemed to be at the lower levels of the AI value chain—that is, limited to the annotation of data sets—while developed economies reaped the highest benefits as the creators of the AI algorithms and owners or custodian of the massive data sets required to feed the AI algorithms.
There is a need to start playing at the higher levels of the AI value chain by creating local capacities in specialized AI skills such as data science, machine learning, and data engineering amongst others.
Furthermore, he added that Africa has unique data sets related to unique features of Africa including but not limited to African culture, African languages,
African geographic and natural ecosystems can be harnessed to form a unique foundation for indigenous and homegrown AI digital products.
The fireside panel was the last event of a very successful Kenya IGF, that was delivered in a hybrid format that saw over two hundred in-person participants and over one-hundred online participants deliberate on Internet governance issues over three days.
Composed of both the Kenya Youth IGF and the Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG) where the next generation of Internet leaders is incubated, the annual Kenya IGF hosted by KICTANet remains one of the premier events on the Kenyan ICT calendar.
In her closing remarks, the KICTANet CEO and Convenor, Grace Githaiga promised an even bigger and better 2024 Kenya IGF. Make sure you follow KICTANet on Twitter and register on the KICTANet mailing list to avoid missing out next time.