The Artificial Intelligence for Development in Africa (AI4D Africa) program is dedicated to a future where Africans across all regions create and use artificial intelligence (AI) to lead healthier, happier and greener lives.


2020 Launch

4-Year Program

20 Million Canadian Dollars

IDRC, SIDA Funders

Why Ai4D?

Like the internet, artificial intelligence (AI) systems are rapidly becoming a new layer of infrastructure with transformative potential. Fuelled by the increasing availability of computational power, improved connectivity, and big data, AI applications offer exciting possibilities for contributing to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through spurring new start ups, improving food systems, enabling higher quality education systems and tackling pressing health and climate challenges.

As with any widely adopted technology — especially one as powerful and potentially pervasive as AI — the benefits come with risks that must be managed and mitigated. It can reinforce structural inequalities and bias, perpetuate gender imbalances, threaten jobs, and facilitate oppressive government surveillance. The time to write the future of AI in Africa is now, as policies and practices put in place today will shape the benefits and harms of AI in the decades to come.


AI4D Africa partners with African machine learning communities to support the responsible, home-grown development and deployment of AI through investments in innovation, policy research, and capacity.

How AI4D Works

AI4D innovation networks to address Africa’s different development challenges

AI4D Africa will support four, pan-African innovation research networks each focused on a key development issue. Topics for the four networks are likely to include areas such as agriculture and languages. Each network will be coordinated by an African institution playing the role of the network hub. Each hub is expected to develop and support a network of researchers and practitioners working on AI-based innovations; provide conceptual and technical support and guidance to network members; conduct research review and syntheses on AI innovations from both within and outside the research network; and contribute to the strategic guidance of the AI4D Africa program.

AI4D in Africa will launch a call for the innovation research network hubs in late 2020. Successful network hubs will be awarded up to CAD 1.5M, and the hub will provide grants between CAD 50-70,000 to develop, test, and evaluate local AI innovations. Selected hubs will launch calls for AI innovation research proposals mid-2021.

Policy research think-and-do tanks to establish responsible AI

The stream will fund two AI4D research to policy think-and-do tanks that will engage in AI policy research to inform and facilitate the development of public policies and regulations that promote the inclusive benefits of AI, while mitigating the potential costs and risks. The two think-and-do tanks will be distributed linguistically, one in an anglophone country and the other in a francophone country.

The call for the two policy centres is currently open till November 4th.

Amplify African AI talent.

Capacity stream will fund the development of two multidisciplinary AI4D university labs as well as the African AI4D Scholarships program that will be open to machine learning PhD students and academics across the continent.

Multidisciplinary AI4D Labs

These investments will focus on strengthening the ability of African public universities as a long-term, sustainable approach to developing and nurturing local talent that responds to the capacity requirements of the public and private sector.

This will happen through support for two African public university multidisciplinary AI4D labs for three years. The focus will be on ensuring that these labs are distributed across Africa and build capacity in lower resource settings. Each of the successful universities will be awarded CAD 1M over three years.

In late 2020 AI4D Africa will launch calls for the multidisciplinary labs.

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The African AI4D Scholarships

The African AI4D Scholarships seek to support the next generation of PhD students and early career academics focused on responsible AI4D.

There are two types of scholarships that will be offered. The African AI4D PhD Scholarships will support up to 12 doctoral students to attend public universities and engage in research related to responsible AI4D. The AI4D Africa Scholars fund is a project-based scholarship that will support up to 8 early career academics based at public universities and include inbound scholarship opportunities for graduate students and postdocs.

The scholarships will be managed by an organization that will be responsible for design and implementation of the call, the selection process, communications and marketing, the disbursement of funds, and the design and management of all complementary activities. The successful institution will be awarded up to CAD 3.8M over a three-and-a-half-year period.

In late 2020 a call will be launched for the scholarships managing organization.

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Call for Proposals

Policy Research Centres on Artificial Intelligence for Development in Africa: Getting to responsible AI through research and policy development.

See Requirements