Kenya hosts forum seeking to raise Africa's stake in academic research

Dr Winston Ojenge, the Head of the Digital Innovation and Knowledge Economy programme at the African Centre of Technology Studies when he addressed Africa research supervisors. [File, Standard]

Kenya will next week host an academy for researchers and scholars on artificial intelligence and machine learning in Africa. The academy, to be held from December 12-16 in Mombasa, will bring together 75 PhD, masters and post-doctorate students together with their supervisors from 22 universities across 18 African countries.

Participants will be sensitised on ethical issues related to artificial intelligence and machine learning to enable them conduct sustained research and deploy related products in an ethical manner.

The scholars and researchers will also be exposed to strategies of commercialising solutions from their research endeavours.

In addition, the academy will explore how capacity-building programmes on artificial intelligence and machine learning can be expanded to enable wider access to scholars. It will also provide an opportunity for networking among scholars and researchers in Africa.

“The PhD academy is meant to deepen the skills and knowledge required to drive research and deployment of artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions in the continent,” said Prof Tom Ogada, the Executive Director of the African Centre for Technology Studies.

The academy will be facilitated by experts from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana; University of Linkoping, Sweden, University Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar; Senegal, University of California, United States; Human Sciences Research Council and Institute for Humanities in Africa based in South Africa; and the University of Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique. 

“We not only want to produce good researchers but also equip them with knowledge and skills on other important issues to ensure their research outputs are packaged in a  way that can influence policy and also be readily commercialised,” Prof Ogada said yesterday.

The PhD Academy is part of a wider continental initiative – the Artificial Intelligence for Development Africa (AI4D Africa) scholarship project which aims to foster and nurture talent in African public universities.

PhD research

AI4D Africa scholarship project is supporting scholars to undertake PhD research, and early career academics to strengthen their research and development capacities in the two areas.

Special consideration will be given to research projects on responsible AI innovation for sustainable development, gender equity, and equitable regional distribution in low-income countries.

In addition, the initiative seeks to enhance the capacities of ICT departments to offer MSc and PhDs by supporting them with research tools. This will not only facilitate the research activities in artificial intelligence but will also be made available to other postgraduate and final-year undergraduate students within the departments.

The project is expected to create a critical mass of scholars to enhance research while public universities in sub-Saharan Africa will have developed their capacities to provide postgraduate training in artificial intelligence and machine learning.