Rutendo Chabikwa is a DPhil student at the OII. Her research applies a gender lens to understanding the effects of digital media on political participation in postcolonial contexts.
This report provides an overview of whether African governments and regional bodies incorporate adequate consideration of gender in their discussions of AI and its potential role in economic development.
This report focusses in particular on the regional approaches taken by the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It starts by outlining the background of the role of AI as a major driver of economic growth and a tool for rapid development across the African Continent. Given the underrepresentation of women in AI spaces, the report argues that the potential benefits of this technology for economic development need to considered with an awareness of the potential harms of further entrenching gender inequalities.
The report then analyses the protocols, model laws, strategies and declarations from these bodies related to development, technology, and gender. It highlights how some individual countries do a good job of strategically focussing on AI, and some regional documents attempt this, but overall, AI is generally considered along with other emerging technologies, and is not singled out as a key focus. The absence of a strategic portrayal of AI with appropriate gender specificity makes it difficult, the report argues, to shape policies that effectively target AI technologies.
As a result of these findings, the report then makes a number of recommendations to improve gender specific awareness of AI and development.