Kenya slips in ranking on technology uptake

Tech Kids Africa CEO Paul Akwabi (left) and Riara University Vice Chancellor Prof Robert Gateru during the signing of the memoranda in Nairobi. The two institutions target to train at least 5, 000 Kenyan learners between the age of 7 and 19 years on advanced technology skills in various schools.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

 Kenya has dropped seven places in a global ranking of governments’ readiness to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) in public services, a newly released annual index report shows.

The Government AI Readiness Index 2021 by Oxford Insights ranked the country at position 78 out of 160 nations with an overall score of 45.54, down from 71 out of 172 and an overall score of 43.66 in 2020.

Kenya come in third in Africa after Mauritius (58), Egypt (65) South Africa (68) Seychelles (70) and Tunisia (77).

The index measures how ready governments are to implement AI in the delivery of public services using the right tools and the operating environment for economic development.

The ranking was based on three pillars – government, the technology sector, data and infrastructure.

The report shows skills gap and lack of AI specialists have inhibited Kenya among other sub-Saharan African countries to gain economic advantages in the use of machine-driven systems for service delivery.

This is coupled with a lack of up-to-date data and infrastructure.

“Kenya has recognised this as a problem and begun to implement solutions. The government has decided to change its educational curriculum to make it more technically oriented. They have done this by integrating computer science and AI training models at all levels of the education system,” the report said.

“More governments must follow suit. They should encourage initiatives in which AI practitioners, academics, policymakers, and future talent can interact,” added sub-Saharan regional expert Abdijabar Mohamed.

The Kenyan Government has also been aggressive in digitising services such as visa application, tax returns with e-visa and i-tax respectively, renew of driver’s license and business registration through the e-Citizen portal, and setting up Huduma Centres in devolved units.

The move is aimed at improving service delivery and increasing revenue.

Digitising government services is also expected to enhance the ease of doing business and increase global competitiveness.

In 2018, ICT ministry appointed an 11-member team task force to explore use of distributed ledger technology and AI for development.

The team recommended eliminating corruption through blockchain transparency, minimising national debt via digital assets framework works, and improvement of public service delivery through a single platform, Huduma Namba.

Most of these recommendations remain on paper.