The growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies and industries within the African continent hold much promise for proffering innovative approaches to addressing challenges and improving socio-economic development in areas such as health, education, agriculture and service delivery. However, AI technological developments pose new and complex questions regarding ethics and social impact which the industry alone cannot answer. Important research questions in the application of AI should be dealt with not only by the companies building and deploying the technology, but also by independent academic research institutions in the region. The latter are best equipped to pursue localised and innovative interdisciplinary research for the benefit of the African continent.
To help support the need for rigorous and ground-breaking academic research in these areas, Facebook is supporting independent academic research work in Africa in the field of AI that takes into account interdisciplinary perspectives. This research initiative complements Facebook’s existing efforts to bolster independent research being undertaken in these areas, such as those we are supporting in Asia Pacific, India and Latin America and the TUM Institute for Ethics in AI.
This research initiative, through a request for proposals (RFP) coordinated by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) of South Africa, will result in the production of papers from academic institutions, think tanks, and research organizations registered and operational across Africa. Proposals will be reviewed by a selection committee, and the entities whose proposals are selected will receive a research grant.