Global ranking on technology uptake
According to a newly released yearly index report, Kenya has slipped seven places in a global ranking of governments’ readiness to employ artificial intelligence (AI) in public services.
The country was placed 78 out of 160 nations in the Government AI Readiness Index 2021 by Oxford Insights, with an overall score of 45.54, down from 71 out of 172 and a score of 43.66 in 2020.
After Mauritius (58), Egypt (65), South Africa (68), Seychelles (70), and Tunisia (70), Kenya is ranked third in Africa (77).
The index assesses how prepared governments are to use AI to perform public services using the correct tools and in an atmosphere conducive to economic growth.
The government, the technological sector, data, and infrastructure were used to rank the countries.
According to the paper, a skills gap and a scarcity of AI experts have hampered Kenya’s and other Sub-Saharan African countries’ ability to obtain economic benefits from the usage of machine-driven systems for service delivery.
This is exacerbated by a lack of current data and infrastructure.
“Kenya has recognized 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 applications, tax returns (through e-visa and i-tax), driver’s license renewal and company registration (using the e-Citizen portal), and the establishment of Huduma Centres in devolved units.
The change is intended to boost revenue while also enhancing service performance.
Government service digitization is also projected to improve the ease of doing business and boost global competitiveness.
In 2018, the ICT ministry formed an 11-member task force to investigate the application of distributed ledger technology and artificial intelligence for development.
The team proposed that corruption be eliminated through blockchain transparency, that national debt be reduced through digital asset framework development, and that public service delivery be improved through a single platform, Huduma Namba, although the majority of the proposals stay on paper.