Key Note: AI in Kenya: Opportunities, Challenges and Policy Actions

Key Note: AI in Kenya: Opportunities, Challenges and Policy Actions

  1.  I am pleased and honoured to join you today to officially open this important discussion on “policy discussion on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Kenya”. First, allow me to thank KICTAnet for partnering with Meta to organize this discussion and to the participants for joining the discussion, which will unquestionably contribute to the development of emerging technologies in Kenya. 
  2. This discussion comes at an opportune time when the Ministry of Information, Communications and The Digital Economy has just begun the ICT Sector reform process. Three months ago, in August 2023, the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and the Digital Economy appointed the ICT Sectoral Working Group (Taskforce Committee) on Policy and Legislative Reforms for the Information, Communications and the Digital Economy Sector with two objectives:

(a). Evaluate the efficacy, suitability and structuring of the ICT and digital economy sector and its role in fostering agility, innovation and value creation.

(b). Review existing policy, legislative frameworks, institutional structures and administrative protocols regulating/underpinning the ICT and digital economy sector in Kenya and make recommendations for reform.

  1. The Sectoral Working Group is structured around the State Departments of ICT and Digital Economy, and Broadcasting and Telecommunications, with clearly defined thematic areas (7): Digital Infrastructure and telecommunication services; Software Development and Software Services; Data Governance and Emerging Technologies; Innovation, Enterprise Development, Digital skills & Jobs; Postal couriers & e-commerce; and Media & Broadcasting services.
  2. This discussion is a testament to our shared commitment to harness the transformative potential of emerging technologies, as captured in today’s objective “to provide a platform for dialogue and engagement on the concerns and opportunities arising from the use of Artificial Intelligence in Kenya and to identify priority policy actions and potential solutions to promote an enabling environment for AI in Kenya”
  3. Artificial intelligence (AI) is introducing new ways of analyzing, disseminating and even generating information, and reshaping entire economic sectors of activity. In addition to the new opportunities, AI is bringing significant potential challenges and risks for users, policymakers and regulators to consider. 
  4. In Kenya, AI has the potential to transform and impact many economic sectors, including healthcare, education and finance. For example, AI can be used to automate tasks, improve decision-making, and develop new products and services. 
  5. Kenya is well-positioned to benefit from the growth of AI. The country has a young and growing population, a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and a government that is supportive of technology innovation. Kenya is heavily investing in digital infrastructure and big data which are supportive technologies to AI.
  6. On the Citizen services, AI can be used to make Kenya government services more efficient and effective. 

 (a). Health services: AI can be used to improve healthcare in Kenya by providing more accurate diagnoses, developing new treatments, providing personalized diagnoses and treatment plans, and making healthcare more accessible.

(b). Education services: AI can be used to improve education in Kenya by providing personalized learning experiences, automating administrative tasks, and making education more affordable.

(c). Financial services: AI can be used to improve financial services in Kenya by providing access to credit, reducing fraud, and making financial services more efficient.

(d). security services: AI can also be used to enhance security, by detecting and preventing crime.

  1. There are several challenges and risks of AI use and application in Kenya. The challenges include a lack of awareness of AI among the Kenyan population; a lack of skilled AI professionals in Kenya; a lack of data infrastructure in Kenya; and ethical concerns surrounding the use of AI. 
  2. While the risks include: Job displacement, Privacy Violations, and Security threats.
  3. It is crucial to note that, like most countries, Kenya does not have a stand-alone AI policy/strategy or regulatory framework. It relies on several existing laws to address issues related to AI and digital technologies. These laws include the Data Protection Act of 2019, which confers a framework for data protection in Kenya.
  4. To address the challenges and risks of AI use and application, Kenya requires sound a policy, legal and regulation framework. And as prior actions;

(a). The government is developing an AI policy and will establish an AI use regulatory framework following the AI use and development principles:

  •  Ai is to be used for the benefit of all Kenyans.
  • AI to be developed and used responsibly and ethically.
  • AI is to be used in a way that respects human rights and privacy.
  • AI is to be used in a way that promotes transparency and accountability.

(b). The SDICTDE is being supported by GIZ/UNDP to develop an AI policy/strategy to promote the development and adoption of AI in the country.

(c). The government, academia and private sector are collaborating to invest in and develop digital research – emerging technologies. 

13, As the government accomplishes all these, the Kenya Public Policy Handbook 2020 (being reviewed) and Kenya Constitution 2010 require public participation in policy formulation and development. Therefore, there is room to work with all relevant stakeholders, KICTAnet included, to develop and finalize AI policy for Kenya. Together, we can develop policy, legal, and regulatory frameworks that can address the potential harm, concerns and opportunities arising from AI use and development in Kenya.

  1. In closing, ladies and gentlemen, AI has the potential to transform Kenya into a more prosperous and equitable society and by addressing the challenges and implementing the right policy and regulations framework, Kenya can ensure that it benefits from the growth of AI. Kenya’s AI policy development and implementation calls for collaborative efforts from all stakeholders.
  2. With these few remarks, I declare this roundtable discussion on “policy discussion on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Kenya organized by KICTAnet in partnership with Meta, formally opened.

Thank you for your attention and God Bless ALL.

Keynote Address By Eng. John Kipchumba Tanui, Mbs, Principal Secretary For The State Department For Information, Communication Technology And Digital Economy In The Ministry Of Information, Communications And The Digital Economy During The Kictanet Roundtable Meeting On Thursday, November 16, 2023, Nairobi.


David Indeje information

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