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  • Writer's pictureDigital Team

The Rwandan AI policy – key elements for comparison

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

Rwanda AI Policy

Rwanda AI policy

The Rwandan Government published its 'National AI policy' in 2022. The stated vision of the Policy was (for Rwanda) to 'become a global centre for AI research and innovation'. The Mission of the Policy being to 'leverage AI to power economic growth, improve quality of life and position Rwanda as a global innovator for responsible and inclusive AI'.

The Policy also seeks to achieve the national objectives of:

  • Positioning Rwanda as Africa's AI Lab and responsible AI champion

  • Building 21st Century Skills and AI literacy

  • Creating open, secure, trusted data ecosystem and as an AI enabler

  • Driving Public Sector transformation

  • Accelerating responsible AI use in the Public Sector

The Policy can be broken into six areas that need to work together. They are represented by the following diagram:

Six areas AI Policy Rwanda

The key aspects of the Rwandan Policy that are notable for comparison include:

Reskilling the workforce with AI and data skills.

The policy recognises the need for Rwanda’s workforce to be equipped with the skills to flourish in this AI transition and remain competitive in the regional and global landscape. It notes that the Rwandan Government will invest in and develop a National Skills Building Program prioritizing AI and data skills combined with a Young Professionals/Apprenticeship Program to develop AI talent and career opportunities in the knowledge economy.

World-class AI university education and research.

The Rwanda Government notes its intent to partner with the private sector in the establishment of a Public-Private funded program for AI skills building at the university level. This will include research fellowships, PhDs and Masters degrees, and long-term public-sector funding to universities to build capacity in AI education and research by attracting researchers and partnering with global universities.

Education for young learners in STEM skills.

The Rwandan government has prioritised a long-term approach to the development of AI talent within the country including at the primary educational level. Rwanda’s school curricula is consequently being adapted to include AI, data and digital technologies with the Government investing in a Teacher Corps to support and train young learners in AI and data-related subjects.

Exchange students and professionals internationally

Recognising the need to be strongly connected with international AI expertise if Rwanda is aiming to become a hub for AI, the Rwandan Government is actively seeking to attract and retain AI talent from across Africa and around the world. This includes exchange programs for students and professionals in the AI field.

Access to high performance compute capacity.

Powerful compute capability has been recognised as a foundational requirement for Rwanda to train AI models on large data sets. Access to this level of compute is a challenge for start-ups and the Rwandan Government has consequently taken a leadership role in facilitating access to world-class cloud computing services (frequently from international suppliers) who offer competitive performance and cost for Rwandan companies.

Cloud infrastructure with AI-ready for region

The investment required in critical infrastructure for full option AI is substantial and Rwanda is actively seeking to partner with global players. This will still require a level of home grown skills to manage the infrastructure as Rwanda seeks to develop national cloud infrastructure and techno-industrial base.

Pathways to AI-ready data.

Data is the is the fuel needed to for the ‘AI machine’ and a significant amount of public and private sector is still inaccessible. The Rwandan Government is establishing a multi-sectoral task force to develop data governance frameworks and protocols with standards for sharing data ethically, responsibly and securely. It is hoped that this framework will help safety unlock the data.

Strengthen AI policy and regulation to ensure trust

Trust is critical to public confidence and acceptance of AI and the Rwandan Government is working to strengthen regulatory oversight and align where possible with international standards and best practices to foster public trust.

Measure AI development and competitiveness.

The Government of Rwanda is seeking to establish relationship with international partners who can support development of AI readiness indexes and benchmarks. Rwanda’s AI competitiveness and capacity will be measured in an annual ‘AI Readiness Index’ in order to track progress and attract additional international investment.

Improve public service delivery using AI.

The Rwandan Government will invest awareness raising around the benefits of AI through piloting, demonstrations and building capacity to implement and manage AI projects, delivering improved public services. The Government will also engage local AI solution providers through innovation-friendly procurement processes, organize training sessions, invest in hackathons, prizes and challenges to open opportunities for responsible AI applications in the public sector, and establish a risk sharing fund to support R&D in the public sector.

Private sector prioritization of AI to drive investments

The Rwandan Government is seeking to identify a portfolio of high potential AI use cases and projects aligned with the national agenda that can inform investment prioritization for the private and public sectors. The Government will also facilitate AI adoption through AI meet-ups and demonstrations to raise AI and data literacy. The profile of AI will be highlighted at the national level through the establishment of a Presidential Council on AI composed of AI academic and industry leaders to provide advice to the government and private sector.

Boost Rwanda’s emerging AI ecosystem.

The Rwandan Government is aiming to facilitate collaboration among the start-up, industry and research communities. This will be through a ‘Rwanda AI Program’ to jointly develop AI innovations and solutions for industry and government challenges, in order to bring together the much-needed resources to support the Rwandan AI ecosystem. This will also include a Seed Investment Fund to co-invest alongside specialist funds to invest in AI companies.

Operationalize AI ethical guidelines.

The Rwandan Government will promote Rwanda’s 'Guidelines on the Ethical Development and Implementation of AI’ throughout the AI community. This will include an annual participatory consultation forum to review and update the guidelines and create a network of AI Ethics Officers across government institutions to champion them.

Shape AI principles & practices internationally

Rwanda will seek to participate in international fora on AI, to sharing Rwandan experience and learn from international practices. Rwanda will support Joint initiatives within the likes of the OECD, UNESCO, ITU, GPAI, World Bank, UNDP, GIZ, PDPC, Smart Africa, African Union, WEF/GAIA and others where helpful.

Rwanda has emerged as an example of country with a clear focus on the transformation of its country though emerging technology such as AI. This makes Rwanda an exciting country to watch and compare policy lessons learnt in the ongoing journey to maximise the opportunities, and minimise the risks of AI.


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