Initiative for the Development of Artificial Intelligence (IDIA): Francophone Policy Research Network
In Francophone Africa, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at a precarious stage and remains virtually untapped. Little known to decision-makers, it nevertheless has an essential role to play in improving the efficiency of processes and the quality of decision-making. Institutions such as AFRIA (Francophone Agency for Artificial Intelligence) are working to establish public policies that stimulate digital technology and transform AI challenges into development opportunities. This is an important step, but one that remains insufficient to push governments to give more importance to AI and its solutions.
The Initiative for the Development of Artificial Intelligence (IDIA) is a research project that aims to address the lack of data and evidence on AI in French-speaking Africa. It will contribute to the adoption of responsible AI in French-speaking Africa through research that informs national and regional strategies and policies. IDIA will provide concrete avenues for public policies and strategies in French-speaking Africa that consider all the issues surrounding responsible AI through research conducted by committed and complementary institutions and in collaboration with decision-makers.
To do this, the project will establish a French-speaking network of researchers working on AI policies, will strive to strengthen the capacities of research teams and policymakers in French-speaking Africa, and will support teams of researchers in the production of contextual, targeted. and demand-driven research with input from policymakers. The evidence produced as well as the commitment of decision-makers upstream of the project will be key to influencing the development and adoption of responsible AI policies and strategies. To support this desired change, the research elements and products (intermediate and final) will be positioned on the pan-African and international scene, policy documents will be produced and published, and civil society will be called upon to ensure equitable participation from all walks of life.
This project is supported through the Artificial Intelligence for Development in Africa (AI4D) program, a joint investment from IDRC and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, which focuses on three main pillars: capacity strengthening and amplifying AI talent and communities in Africa, supporting rights and inclusion through the development of responsible AI policy, and advancing AI innovation networks to address Africa's development challenges.