Three institutions are to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to help combat climate change in the agricultural sector in Africa.
The three — the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and AKADEMIYA2063 — are to create an innovative research network in order to implement climate action in Africa through the responsible development and deployment of AI innovations.
Dubbed: ‘Research and Services Network for Responsible Artificial Intelligence for Climate Action Innovation in Africa’, it is a four-year AI hub with sponsorship from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) Graduate Research Grants and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
The hub, which seeks to advance climate action in Africa through the responsible development and deployment of AI innovations with respect to the development and scaling of responsible AI innovations for climate action in sub-Saharan Africa, is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13 on climate action innovation in Africa.
It is also to help build the capacities of African innovators and researchers, as well as increase the contribution of African research to international AI policy and practice.
An inception meeting has been held in Accra for participants from Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
Technology in agric
At the meeting held with a hybrid of in-person and online, the WASCAL Executive Director, Dr Moumini Savadogo, said the time had come to put expertise in Africa together to combat climate change.
He said African scientists needed to be frontrunners in resolving the devastating nature of climate change on the continent, using AI technologies.
He said it was expected that the project would enhance the scientific knowledge framework to be produced and widely disseminated to policy makers across Africa and internationally for necessary adoption and implementation.
Opening the workshop, the Executive Secretary of RUFORUM, Dr Florence Mayega Nakayiwa, said there was the need to promote the participation of the youth in agriculture by making it attractive to them, saying that could be done through AI and the application of other modern technologies.
She also said there was the need to employ gender sensitive initiatives to promote the participation of women and girls in the AI initiative to help break the bias in digital citizenry.
Dr Nakayiwa also called for the inclusion of the less-privileged in the adaptation of AI initiatives, as they were also needed to help promote successful innovative processes in climate change.
Benefits of AI
Joining the meeting virtually, the Executive Secretary of AKADEMIYA2063, Dr Ousmane Badiane, said the appropriate use of AI would spur growth in Africa, and that the organisation was ready to help bring to Africa a comprehensive and effective approach to linking data and analysis to policy design, implementation and innovation.
He said AKADEMIYA2063’s mission was to create, across Africa, state-of-the-art technical capacities to support efforts by member states of the African Union to achieve the key goals of Agenda 2063 of transforming national economies to boost growth and prosperity.
He said it was ready to translate its expertise into capacity building, scientific research and technical support to contribute to efforts in climate change, mitigation and adaptation.
The Leader of the AI Hub project, Professor Daouda Kone, said the hub intended to build capacities across the continent in a range of climate change aspects, collect data and contribute to climate change policy development and harmonisation.
The hub, he said, would create and strengthen inter-disciplinary collaboration among scientists and institutions.