Dr. Emmanuel Kolog Awuni, a Senior Lecturer in computing and information systems at the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) was invited by UNESCO to join other speakers in a roundtable discussion on building Artificial Intelligent (AI) competency in Africa. This was a Southern Africa sub-regional forum on Artificial intelligence and was held in Namibia from the 7th to 9th of September 2022 under the theme “Towards a Development-oriented, Sustainable and Ethical Use of Artificial Intelligence,” The forum was organised by the UNESCO in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education, Technology, and Innovation of Namibia.
During the discussion, Dr. Awuni spoke on developing a contextually relevant and responsive standard computing curricula with a strong presence of AI at all levels of education thus from K12, undergraduate and postgraduate. He highlighted on co-designing AI-based solutions with people on the ground through a citizen science initiative. He also suggested that African countries should work to enhance academic-industry partnerships, thereby providing internships in the industries for students. Dr. Awuni added that teacher professional development in AI should be strengthened through a traveling university initiative. Thus, teachers will get the opportunity to upgrade their knowledge of AI without having to leave their teaching job for school.
Dr. Awuni recognised the need for African countries to give opportunities to people to showcase their talents through a community-based plugin incubation centres. The centres should be equipped with the resources to hone, nurture, and support talents in AI innovations in Africa. In all the initiatives that Dr. Awuni has pointed out, he implored the governments of Africa to make funds available for contextually relevant AI research in the institutions and research centres to drive AI innovations in Africa. Dr. Awuni further indicated the need to establish and improve civil service training institutions with the mission of offering short courses as well as the responsible and explainable use of AI to improve the capacity of civil servants.
Concluding his address, Dr. Awuni admonished governments of Africa to help promote AI education in Africa through policies, funding, and open government data initiatives to drive socio-economic development. He was quick to add that open government data must be credible and not cooked. In a nutshell, three (3) of Dr. Awuni’s suggested six (6) ideas were captured in the outcome statement.
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