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ISC and its partners organised the 9th edition of the Science Summit around the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) on 12-29 September 2023.
The role and contribution of science to attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be the central theme of the Summit. The objective is to develop and launch science collaborations to demonstrate global science mechanisms and activities to support the attainment of the UN SDGs, Agenda 2030 and Local2030. The meeting will also prepare input for the United Nations Summit of the Future, which will take place during UNGA79 beginning on 12 September 2024.
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Friday, September 15 • 12:00pm - 2:00pm
[VIRTUAL] AI Governance, Africa and SDGs: Opportunities and Challenges (151201)

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Introduction and aims

The overall aim of the session is to look at AI governance arrangements that can help achieve SDGs in Africa. Currently, there is very little discussion around the role that AI governance can contribute in the achievement of SDGs in Africa and yet without proper governance arrangements it will be a challenge to realise the UN SDGs. This is problematic if we are to believe that AI can be used for social good and in helping to meet the SDGs, most of which speak to the social and economic challenges faced by the Global South, in particular Africa. Currently, the AI ecosystem is dominated by data, algorithms and ethics from the Global North which for the most part considers some AI governance arrangements that do not necessarily speak to African experiences and values.For instance, AI regulations currently in development in the EU and US, have the potential to negatively impact African nations under the extraterritorial application principle. A consideration of AI governance arrangements from an Afrian perspective will ensure an inclusion of the rich and diverse African principles such as Ubuntu and Ujaama that can result in a truly responsible AI for Africa which can subsequently contrite to the achievement of the UN SDGs. It is necessary to acknowledge that the adoption of AI in the Global South is fraught with challenges which include infrastructure, lack of proper governance AI policies, representative datasets and dependency on technology giants from the Global North. The session's main aim is to therefore look at AI cases and the role AI governance can play in contributing to achieving SDGs in many domain areas such as commercial services, education, and public services including partnerships to enable sustainable development. The panel will also focus on policy recommnedations coming from Africa stakeholders and suggest how these can suceed.


There is a dearth of African AI narratives in the global AI discourse which are important in understanding Africa’s AI needs, values, contexts, principles, data and expectations. This dearth is especially reflected in the lack of robust AI governance arrangements which contribute to neglecting and forgetting these narratives through epistemic injustice. This means that AI systems will be designed and deployed in Africa without embedding critical African values and principles. Such exclusion means that there remains a risk of AI colonialism and neo-colonialism that extrapolates AI governance arrangements from the West to Africa which has implications for real, sustainable development. AI is as good as the AI governance within which it can operate. Without proper AI governance that does not address the needs and experiences of Africa, the danger is that unfair biases and discrimination will continue. For inclusive benefits and human flourishing, it is therefore imperative not to ignore the role of AI governance in achieving the SDGs. This session, therefore addresses this by considering African values, principles, data and contexts in a way to allow for the co-creation and development of responsible AI systems through robust AI governance. To do this, the session has four speakers from diverse AI backgrounds that will present individual cases by applying an AI governance lens to illustrate how these cases can contribute to achieving the UN SDGs.

avatar for Michael Zimba

Michael Zimba

Director, Malawi University of Science and Technology
Dr. Michael Zimba is the Director of the Malawi Institute of Technology (MIT) and Associate Professor of Artificial Intelligence & Data Science at the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST). He consults for Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Program... Read More →
avatar for Shikoh Gitau

Shikoh Gitau

Qhala Ltd
Dr. Shikoh Gitau's ProfileShikoh is the CEO of Qhala, a Digital Innovation company that catalyzes digital transformation capabilities for organizations across Africa. She has over 10 years of experience in the Research, Design, Implementation, and Management of Digital Technologies... Read More →
avatar for Magdalene Kariuki

Magdalene Kariuki

Associate Director, Africa Practice
In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) development and deployment have transformed various industries and societies. As AI continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, it becomes increasingly vital to establish robust policy frameworks to govern its ethical, legal, and societal... Read More →
avatar for Peter G. Kirchschlaeger

Peter G. Kirchschlaeger

Ethics-Professor, University of Lucerne
Since 2017 Ethics-Professor and Director of the Institute of Social Ethics ISE at the University of Lucerne, since 2014 Research Fellow at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein (South Africa), and since 2023 Visiting Professor at the Chair for Neuroinformatics and Neural... Read More →
avatar for Maha Jouini

Maha Jouini

Founder and CEO, African Center for AI and digital Technology
Maha Jouini is a UNDP Business Mentor and founder of the African Center for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technology.  Based in Mauritania, She is working as Digital Transformation Consultant where she helps companies integrate digital, and more broadly all information and... Read More →

avatar for Co-convenor: Damian Eke

Co-convenor: Damian Eke

Research Fellow, De Montfort University, Leicester
Dr Damian Okaibedi Eke is a Research Fellow in the EU Human Brain Project at De Montfort University (DMU) in the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility. He is the Data Governance coordinator for the Human Brain Project and the Chair of International Brain Initiative's (IBI... Read More →
avatar for Kutoma Wakunuma

Kutoma Wakunuma

Associate Professor, De Montfort University
Dr. Kutoma Wakunuma is Associate Professor Research and Teaching in Information Systems. Her research interests cover the highly relevant area of the intersection of information technologies, development, ethics and gender. She is an award winning researcher having been awarded  for... Read More →

Friday September 15, 2023 12:00pm - 2:00pm EDT