Kenya among countries picked for artificial intelligence research

Prof Tom Ogada, executive director at the African Centre for Technology Studies. [Courtesy]

A scholarship programme seeking to nurture talent in technological research in Africa’s public universities has been launched.

The three-year programme aims to meet the rising demand for expertise in responsible artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in the continent.

While machine learning encompasses the study of computer algorithms and use of data, artificial intelligence involves the simulation of human intelligence by machines, usually computer system.

The scholarship programme will support selected scholars to undertake PhD research in AI and ML in African universities, and early career academics to strengthen their research and development capacities in the two areas.

The initiative, dubbed the A14D Africa scholarship, is implemented by the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) based in Kenya in partnership with Kwame Nkrumah University in Ghana, University of Linkoping, Sweden, University Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar, Senegal, University of California, Human Sciences Research Council and Institute for Humanities in Africa based in South Africa and the University of Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique. 

“We are fully committed to ensure successful implementation of the programme not only for the benefit of the scholars but also to help harness AI and ML technologies to trigger sustainable development in Africa” said ACTS executive director Tom Ogada.

Following a rigorous selection and evaluation process, the first cohort of 10 scholars of the AI4D Africa scholarship have been selected from Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, Senegal, Benin and Rwanda.

Special support will be given to women candidates who have completed MSc in areas relevant to AI and ML to pursue PhD studies. In this respect, at least four women will benefit from this scheme, one per each region.

The initiative is built on the premise that whereas majority of doctoral graduates expect to secure jobs in academic and research, a postdoctoral period is desirable to develop fully-fledged, independent, and competent researchers.