Ethiopia to launch artificial intelligence development center


The Government of Ethiopia is set to establish artificial intelligence (AI) research and development center that helps startups and regulate the industry.

On Saturday the Council of Ministers has approved a regulation that will facilitate the establishment of AI research and development center. The regulation is expected to provide quality services, products and solutions for beginner developers working on artificial intelligence.

Though the country had no regulatory framework to govern and embrace such technologies, individuals efforts has been bearing fruits in applying AI and robotics in Ethiopia.

In 2018 a robotics lab iCog founded by a 19 years old Ethiopian, Betelhem Dessie, is reported as the first AI lab that was involved in developing the world famous Sophia the robot. With the aim of promoting the industry, a few months the oldest state higher education, the Addis Ababa University has hosted the first AI conference.

Reports show that in Africa countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa have been taking advantage of AI, which also mentioned as the 4th industrial revolution, for improving services.

In April 2019, Google has introduced first African AI research laboratory in Accra, Ghana. It was reported that the lab will address many economic, political and environmental challenges of the continent.

In Kenya and Nigeria, AI focused start-ups have begun working on agricultural planning, reducing financial transaction costs, and improving public transportation access and efficiency, according to a report.

Meanwhile though AI has many positive advantages, especially for African continent of young generation, it can be devastating if not supported with good systems of governance. As it can be used for broad social benefit, AI is used for social division, suppression, or even violence in many parts of the world.

In their co-produced piece, ‘Artificial Intelligence in Africa is a Double-edged Sword’ Clayton Besaw and John Filitz suggested that intergovernmental organizations should seek to partner with AI entrepreneurs and corporate actors in Africa while simultaneously providing training to government officials in AI and digital forensics.

The writers stated that “if officials can recognize the nuanced nature of AI use, they may be better able to recognize and support that technology with positive use in mind.”