On 22, June 2023 KICTANet, held their 16th Edition of Kenya Internet Governance Forum 2023 themed The Internet We Want-Empowering All Kenyan People. One of the sessions for this year’s forum was a fireside chat on harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies.
The panel session comprised prominent industry experts and thought leaders to discuss the profound impact of AI and emerging technologies on various sectors in Kenya, including:
· Engineer John Tanui, PS, State Department of ICT and Digital Economy
· Jack Ngare, Technical Director, Office of the CTO, Google
· Dr Angeline Wairegi, AI Lead, CIPIT
· Mark Irura Technical Advisor, FAIR Forward, Artificial Intelligence for All, GIZ
· Cecilia Nyawira, Head of Executive Search, Aga Khan University
· Ali Hussein Kassim, Chairperson KICTANet
The speakers shared their views on ways to harness the power of AI and emerging technologies. Jack Ngare emphasized the importance of programming, logic, algorithms, and mathematical-statistical models in building AI systems.
He reiterated the need for African countries to actively participate in the development and use of AI technologies to avoid being left behind as the field evolves.
From a government perspective, Engineer John Tanui, the Permanent Secretary of the State Department of ICT and Digital Economy in Kenya, shed light on the country’s approach to information and communication technology (ICT) policies.
He mentioned Kenya’s eagerness to embrace emerging technologies like ChatGPT and its efforts to position itself as a key player in the digital economy.
He also underscored the importance of staying at the forefront of technological advancements and the government’s focus on adopting new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and digital currencies.
The PS also mentioned that the government is keen to develop policies and regulations to support the digital economy and ensure the country can use emerging technologies.
“As a Ministry we are looking at how to ensure we have the right policies in place to encourage adoption of this technology. We are looking into our regulatory framework to see to it that we have the right institutions in place,” said Eng Tanui.
Cecilia Nyawira, Head of Executive Search, Aga Khan University talked about the importance of AI in processing large amounts of data and making organizations more efficient.
She acknowledged the use of AI in improving recruitment processes, with tools such as AI-driven applicant tracking systems and chatbots by Human resource managers. She highlighted that “AI should be seen as a complementary tool that enhances human capabilities rather than a replacement for human labour”.
Dr Angeline Wairegi, AI Lead, CIPIT concurred with Cecilia’s sentiments noting that we need to view AI as complementary to human capabilities, rather than a replacement. She said, the goal is to minimize the digital divide between the wealthy who create and gain from technology and the users of that technology.
In a nutshell, this panel discussion emphasized the need for us to see AI as a new tool that enhances human capabilities rather than replacing human labor.
It is also important that Kenya participates actively in the development and use of AI and other emerging technologies like blockchain, and digital currencies to position itself as a key player in the digital economy.