AI Connect participants work together during a design-thinking group session.


From Tuesday April 4 to Thursday April 6, 2023, the fourth in-person AI Connect workshop convened in Nairobi, Kenya to focus on the AI policy ecosystem in Africa as well as regional challenges and opportunities to AI development and implementation. More than 15 participants from the AI Connect program joined a diverse array of innovators from the African tech community to augment their knowledge of regional AI problems and solutions, discuss best practices, and expand their professional networks.

During the three-day event, participants heard from a variety of local AI technology experts and governance practitioners on topics including “Privacy, Ethics, and Civil Rights;” “Overview of the African AI Policy Landscape;” and “AI: Challenges and Opportunities in a Global Context.”

The workshop featured two fireside chats with local AI experts John Kamara, Co-Founder and “Chief Inspiration Officer” of the AI Centre of Excellence (AICE) in Africa, and Loyford Murithi, Deputy at the Kenyan Ministry of Information, Communication, and Technology. Both sessions were moderated by GeoTech Center Senior Director Lloyd Whitman. In addition, Hedweeg Innovations’ Founder and CEO Rohan Shah led a two-part design-thinking session, during which participants first shared common problems and opportunities facing AI practitioners and policymakers in Africa and subsequently brainstormed strategies and policy solutions for them.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, April 4, workshop participants and speakers traveled to Microsoft’s Africa Development Center (ADC) for a series of presentations. Participants heard from local leadership including Catherine Muraga, Managing Director of the Microsoft Africa Development Center, Jacki O’Neill, Director of the Microsoft Africa Research Institute (MARI), and representatives from the Kenya chapter of Microsoft’s AI for Good Initiative. In addition, representatives from Microsoft’s Office of Responsible AI traveled from the U.S. to present the company’s sophisticated Responsible AI framework.

The Nairobi workshop constitutes the final in-person convening in an overwhelmingly successful inaugural year of AI Connect. AI Connect program organizers look forward to events over the horizon, which will continue the vital, globally encompassing discussion on responsible AI.