The International Development Research Centre and Knowledge 4 All Foundation are organizing a three-day workshop of experts in Artificial Intelligence for Development (AI4D) in sub Saharan Africa.

This workshop will bring together machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI) practitioners from research communities across Africa and the world to collaboratively design activities that will strengthen the work of African AI4D researchers, policy-makers and practitioners.

Workshop aim

The intention of the workshop is to scope out the African ML/AI landscape, provide inputs for an African AI research roadmap, and support the development of cross-continent cooperation on AI for sustainable development. It is anticipated that the outcome of the workshop will be a Network of Excellence on AI for sub Saharan African researchers who focus on applications and research relating to AI and human development.

This effort is part of a global AI4D initiative, which we hope will shape the use of AI in the global south, through strengthening regional collaboration and advancing global thematic initiatives. Please see IDRC’s white paper and the IDRC website for more information about the AI4D initiative.

Workshop purpose

The purpose of the workshop is to bring together key African actors involved in the development/production, research, regulation and use of AI in order to:

  • Build consensus and common ground on key priority areas for the region.
  • Develop a research agenda that will support an inclusive and human rights based approach to AI in Africa.
  • Facilitate an AI research network of excellence to support the achievement of the SDGs.

In collaboration with African researchers and other key stakeholders, we will co-design a program of activities to foster the spread of AI applications for social good that will advance education, improve governance, and support better health care delivery. The aim is to support the development of solutions and capacities that ensure AI applications are inclusive, open, and rights-based. The workshop will be a guided, open exchange among participants to reflect on the issues raised in the agenda.

Workshop design

There will not be any Power Point-based lectures or presentations, except an opening talk that will lay out the territory and support the discussion on key issues. Given that the main goal of the gathering is to collectively develop a regional initiative, the activity is by invitation only. Participants have been carefully selected based on their background and knowledge associated to the issue under inquiry. There will be no media attending, nor will the event be open to the public.

Picture gallery

Day 1 – Wednesday, 3 April 2019

8:30Departure from the Tamarind Tree Hotel (shuttle)
9:00Registration at Strathmore University
9:00-10:30 Welcome and introductions
  • Kathryn Toure, Canadian International Development Research Centre
  • AnnaMaria Oltorp, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency

Framing the AI4D initiative in Africa

  • Overview of AI4D  by Fernando Perini and Laurent Elder, Canadian International Development Research Centre
11:00-12:30Understanding challenges related to AI in Africa (Plenary discussion)
  • Discussion to highlight specific challenges related to making AI a positive dirsruption for the African continent
2:00-3:30 Breakdown into four groups and drill down into key areas
  • Discussion on the main challenges and priorities for the network
4:00-5:30Plenary discussion
  • Reporteurs present a summary of the discussions
5:30-6:00Wrap-up and Conclusions
  • John Shawe-Taylor, Knowledge 4 All Foundation
  • Fernando Perini, Canadian International Development Research Centre
18:15Departure from the Strathmore University
7:00Dinner at the Carnivore Restaurant

(walking distance from Tamarind Tree Hotel with vegetarian and pescetarian options)

Day 2 - Thursday, 4 April 2019

8:30Departure from the Tamarind Tree Hotel (shuttle)
9:00-10:00Setting the stage for a Global AI network: sharing international experiences
  • Latin American, Canadian and European perspectives
  • Discussion on other National/Regional Networks
  • Discussion on their purpose, governance, membership structure, long term prospects, success and failures and what it means for an African AI network
  • Deep Learning Indaba Network (slides)
  • PASCAL Network (slides)
  • AI Expo Africa Network (poster)
  • Data Science Africa Network
10:30-12:30 Breakout into groups
  • Design of the areas of work, and potential activities in which the AI4D program in Africa will engage.
2:00-3:00Plenary discussion
  • Reporteurs present a summary of their takes on the breakout groups and network plans on their thematic areas
3:30-5:00Next steps
5:00-5:15Summary of the past two days - the Road ahead
20:00Cocktail party at Tamarind Tree Hotel

Day 3 – Friday, 5 April 2019

8:00Departure from the Tamarind Tree Hotel (shuttle)
9:00-10:00 Tour of IBM Lab and key initiatives
  • Tonya Nyakeya, Ecosystem Lead, IBM Research Africa
  • Tapiwa Chiwewe, Research Manager, IBM Research Africa
  • Juliet Mutahi, Software Engineer, IBM Research Africa (slides)
10:00-11:00Presentation and discussion of African Network roadmap by workshop participants (slides)
  • Skills and Capacity building
  • Applications and Innovation
  • Policy and Governance
11:00-12:30Feedback from global AI supporters
1:30Departure from IBM to Nairobi National park and
Tamarind Tree Hotel
2:00Organised visit - Safari walk


NameInstitution / Organization
1Alexandra BirchUniversity of Edinburgh
2Benjamin RosmanUniversity of the Witwatersrand / CSIR
3Bitange NdemoUniversity of Nairobi
4Brian MuhiaUTU Technologies
5Olubunmi BanjoKuvora
6Ciira MainaDedan Kimathi University of Technology
7Cynthia M. MulengaBongoHive
8Daniele OrnerBrave
9Davor OrlicKnowledge 4 All Foundation
10Deshen MoodleyUniversity of Cape Town/Centre for Artificial Intelligence
11Dr Nick BradshawAI Media PTY Ltd
12Jeph AcheampongBlossom Academy
13Kathleen SiminyuAfrica's Talking
14John Shawe-TaylorUniversity College London
15Kris SankaranMila
16Langa KhumaloUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal
17Melisa Achoko AllelaTechnical University of Kenya
18Moses ThigaKabarak University
19Neil ButcherNeil Butcher & Associates
20Olubayo AdekanmbiMTN Nigeria, Data Science Nigeria
21Paula Hidalgo-SanchisUnited Nations Global Pulse
22Philip Apodo OyierJomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
23Prateek SibalUNESCO
25Tejumade AfonjaAI Saturdays Lagos, InstaDeep
26Ulrich PaquetDeepMind, Deep Learning Indaba
27Vukosi MarivateUniversity of Pretoria, CSIR, Deep Learning Indaba
28Alex ComninosResearch ICT Africa
29Arthur Ernest GwagwaStrathmore Law School
30Geoff HillUKRI
31Hussein SULEMANUniversity of Cape Town
32Delmiro Fernandez-ReyesUniversity College London
33KommyIBM Research - Africa
34Sherif Elsayed-AliElement AI
35Bolanle F. OladejoUniversity of Ibadan
36MALO SadouanouanNazi BONI University
37Latifa Hamisi MbelwaUniversity of Dar es Salaam
38Maria FasliUniversity of Essex
39Fernando PeriniIDRC
40Laurent ElderIDRC
41Naser FaruquiIDRC
42Sarah KidenResearch ICT Africa
43GraceKenya ICT Action Network
44Eva OhlssonSIDA
45AnnaMaria OltorpSIDA
46Tonya NyakeyaIBM Research - Africa
47Alfred OngereAI Kenya



International Development Research Centre (IDRC) funds research in developing countries to promote growth, reduce poverty, and drive large-scale positive change. IDRC seeks to co-design a AI for Development initiative, with a focus on research and capacity-building to develop AI applications that are inclusive, ethical, and rights-based. Through this initiative, funder partners will pool and leverage resources to help shape the rollout of AI in the global south, mainly through strengthening Southern institutions.

Knowledge 4 All Foundation is the only European machine learning focused not-for-profit and an advocate of AI applications for reaching the UNs Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially SDG4. It originated from the PASCAL Network which was an EU funded Network of Excellence comprising some 1000 machine learning, statistical and optimisation researchers. It has de facto leading and building the international machine learning community, through its activities that culminated in today’s AI hype, including supporting the NIPS conference.

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency  (SIDA) is a government agency of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Sida is responsible for organization of the bulk of Sweden's official development assistance to developing countries.

Strathmore University is a chartered university based in Nairobi, Kenya. Strathmore College was started in 1961, as the first multi-racial, multi-religious Advanced-level Sixth Form College offering science and arts subjects, by a group of professionals who formed a charitable educational trust.

Programme Committie

  • John Shawe-Taylor, UNESCO Chair in Artificial Intelligence, Director Knowledge 4 All Foundation, Head of Computer Science Dept. and Director of the Centre for Computational Statistics and Machine Learning, University College London
  • Davor Orlic, COO, Knowledge 4 All Foundation
  • Fernando Perini & Ruhiya Seward, Senior Program Officer, IDRC
  • Kathleen Siminyu, Head of Data Science, Africa's Talking
  • Isaac M Rutenberg, Strathmore Law School, Strathmore University
  • Robert Muthuri, Strathmore Law School, Strathmore University
  • Kommy Weldemariam, Chief Scientist, IBM Research Africa Labs


Strathmore University, Law School-Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology, Law Strathmore University, Madaraka Estate-Ole Sangale Rd, Nairobi, Kenya