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AI “Ethics Shopping” and “Governance Shrinking” in Africa: A Critical Opinion

Research output: Other contribution

Publication date5/02/2024
Number of pages10
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In this opinion piece, we provide a preliminary outlook on the continental African AI ethics-governance landscape, highlighting how the current practices across African national governments and Western-led cooperate entities might be that of “AI ethics shopping”, which ultimately led to “AI governance shrinking”. Drawing on insights across the ethics and governance landscape, this paper proposes a provisional lens through which African communities could approach, design, and domesticate AI policies and governance frameworks. It also argues, and counterintuitively, that in the purposive absence of active African participation in global AI discourses, adaptation of a bottom-up grass root outlook is the most efficient way for African states to engineer a socially appropriate ethical governance framework for AI, and one that transcends the vicious cycle of regulatory dependence and dominance. This paper suggests that one of the ways to realize this critical objective for effective AI governance is to nationalize data as it would inspire not just institutional inputs but will also drive cooperate participation (from within) in developing socially appropriate AI technologies. Also, the nationalization of data will allow for tailoring comprehensive ethical policies and strategies that could support addressing systematic social issues such as the digital divide, ethical and data privacy concerns, and the potential impact on employment which could impact ongoing efforts in AI governance activities in Africa.