5,000 PhD scholars to meet Africa’s growing AI needs


IMAGE/The African Exponent

If Africa wants to tap into the benefits of the digital economy to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), at least 5,000 PhD scholars in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning must be cultivated over the next five years, according to Professor Tom Ogada, executive director of the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS).

AI enables the creation of tools that can help different sectors predict future challenges and create solutions through research, and the world is rallying behind the application of AI to find and improve solutions in sectors such as health, agriculture and climate action.

“Our institution has done a situational analysis to identify the skills that will be needed to grow the digital economy and we established that there is an existing skills gap in Africa at all levels, from secondary school, through university up to doctoral level,” Ogada said.

According to the findings of the technology and innovation think tank (ACTS), progress in AI research and development has been slowed, in part by limited funding opportunities for academics, as well as by a lack of adequate data resources and infrastructure at universities across the region.

An opportunity for PhD students

Through a new initiative, early-career academics and post-doctoral researchers across the continent can apply for grants to conduct their research.

The project, called The Artificial Intelligence for Development in Africa (AI4D) scholarship programme, is funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and other partners.

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