Kenya has been ranked best in Africa and 52nd Globally in the recently released Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index 2019. The Government AI Readiness Index 2019, Compiled by Oxford Insights and the International Development Research Centre, scores the governments of 194 countries and territories according to their preparedness to use AI in their operations and delivery of public services.

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are forecast to add $15 trillion  to the global economy by 2030. The report findings reveal that governments in the Global North are still better positioned to reap the benefits of AI than their southern counterparts. This poses a risk therefore that countries in the Global South could be left behind by the so-called fourth industrial revolution. Not only will they not reap the potential benefits of AI, but there is also the danger that unequal implementation widens global inequalities.

A surprising outcome is China’s relatively low position of 20th, even though central and local governments are already implementing AI in public service delivery. The best performing region, on average, is North America, while the worst performing regions are Africa and the Asia-Pacific. 

There are no African countries in the top 50 positions, and only 12 African countries (out of 54 in the list) are in the top 100. The top five placed African governments are Kenya at number 52, Tunisia at 54, Mauritius at 60, South Africa at 68, and Ghana number 75. This reflects the well-documented developments in the technology sectors of these countries.

The report further notes that there have been a number of developments over the past year that point to a growing AI scene across the African continent. Local AI labs and research centres are appearing throughout Africa, such as the announcement in June 2018 that Google are to open their first African AI research hub in Accra, Ghana. Other examples include the University of Lagos, which launched Nigeria’s first AI hub in June 2018 to develop the country’s AI sector and skills.

This report solidifies the efforts made by the Kenyan government in preparing for change and innovation like the constitution of the Blockchain and AI Taskforce in February 2018 to explore the use of distributed ledger technology and artificial intelligence for development in Kenya.