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IDRC Canada/Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) AI4D Africa Initiative 2021 for African Research in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) invite proposals from independent policy research organizations from across the African continent that are committed to using research to inform and influence national-level artificial intelligence (AI) policies and research ecosystems.

Application Deadline: 19th March 2021 by 23:59 (EDT)

About the Award: The aim of the AI4D Africa initiative is to ensure that policymakers across Africa can find and leverage state-of-the-art, objective and high-quality AI-related policy research that will inform decision-making on key responsible AI policy issues. In turn, this will allow communities across the continent to benefit from the opportunities that AI offers, including improved health, agriculture, governance, education and economic prospects, while being shielded as much as possible from the potential harms of AI.

To this end, the approach of the AI policy centres program is to provide financial support for implementing a responsible AI policy research agenda, mentorship, and capacity building, along with knowledge networking opportunities that will support broad-based responsible AI policy research organizations in Africa.

Eligible Field(s): Policy and research themes can include (but are not limited to):

  • Enabling beneficial AI research and development
  • Economic impacts, labor shifts, inequality, and technological unemployment
  • Accountability, transparency, and explainability
  • Surveillance, privacy, and civil liberties
  • Fairness, ethics, and human rights
  • Diversity and gender equality
  • Data capacity, analytics, protection and governance
  • Political manipulation and computational propaganda
  • Human dignity, autonomy, and psychological impact
  • AI safety

Type: Grants

Eligibility: This call for proposals is open to established research organizations from eligible countries across the African continent with strong research and policy engagement track records in the subjects that are critical for responsible AI. Only institutions that meet the eligibility criteria outlined here should submit proposals for possible funding.

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Possess a track record of research and analysis on the governance of digital technologies, and experience with developing and giving input on digital policies and regulations in a national and/or regional context. This includes experience with the cluster of issues that intersect with AI and the digital ecosystem;
  • Applicants must demonstrate subject area expertise in at least three of the main AI policy and research themes listed in policy research areas below and show capacity and drive to augment work in other critical areas. Given the complexity of AI policy issues, this precludes institutions that focus exclusively on one sector or policy issue; and
  • Be committed to using research to inform national (and regional) public debates and to create spaces for discussion and new ideas.

Final decisions will be based on selecting one Centre from each linguistic category.

Institutions must at the minimum:

  • Be legally registered in the country of operation;
  • Have and provide audited financial statements;
  • Have a Board of Directors and a chief executive that is accountable to the Board;
  • Have ethics protocols in place for research;
  • Have the ability to convene researchers from other countries in the region;
  • Be a non-governmental, non-profit independent organization;
  • Not depend exclusively on the government for funding;
  • Carry out policy-oriented research;
  • Carry out “multi-sector” research on advanced technology policy issues that brings together social and economic policy issues.

Organizations must be currently existing policy research organizations. Funding will not be provided for the creation of new centres/think tanks, nor to centres created for the purpose of applying for a grant from this initiative.

The desired outcomes include credible research, strong organizational performance, high quality research and policy planning capacity with demonstrated impact on AI policies and improved policy engagement.

Eligible Countries: African countries (This funding opportunity will provide funding to two (2) AI policy research organizations representing distinct linguistic regions (anglophone and francophone)

Number of Awards: 2

Value of Award: CA$2.5 million for 2 centres

Duration of Award: 3 years

How to Apply: Apply online

  • It is important to go through all application requirements in the Award Webpage (see Link below) before applying.

Visit Award Webpage for Details

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