UN resolution on AI co-sponsored by Kenya spells hope for Africa

Saturday April 06 2024

AI-generated content is one of the major consequences of the increasingly growing technology. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK


Africa’s status as a net consumer of artificial intelligence (AI) innovations may soon change after the United Nations General Assembly (Unga) adopted a resolution which could see millions come to the continent in the form of financial assistance from developed countries to boost AI uptake and governance.

Sponsored by the United States and cosponsored by Kenya and other countries, the Unga resolution on “Seizing the opportunities of safe, secure, and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems for sustainable development,” is the first ever on AI governance, and has been touted as a win for Africa.

Amongst the recommendations of the resolution are for developed countries, including the US, to cooperate with developing ones including by providing “technical and financial assistance” for AI development.

A dispatch from the inter-governmental organisation indicated that the resolution, which was passed unanimously without a vote, is meant to “bridge AI and other digital divides between and within countries and promote safe, secure and trustworthy AI systems to accelerate progress towards the full realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Read: Africa risks missing out on AI revolution benefits

Besides sending financial and technical assistance to developing countries like Kenya, the resolution will also see AI innovators test their systems before deployment, and also push for the development of tools that detect AI-generated content and trace their origin.


AI-generated content is one of the major consequences of the increasingly growing technology, with the risks they pose on disinformation, misinformation, and general well-being heightening due to minimal regulation on labelling and lack of detection tools.

While an Unga resolution is not legally binding and countries don’t always have to do anything to enforce it, leaders have expressed confidence on this resolution’s ability to transform innovation, especially in Africa, as well as promote a concerted approach to AI governance.

Kenya’s current Permanent Representative to the UN Martin Kimani said Nairobi negotiated for the resolution to “include development, bridging digital divides, technology transfer, and for language protecting linguistic and cultural diversity plus disability, gender and racial equality.”

“The resolution we just adopted reflected our shared responsibility, and collective fate. It leaves no one behind. It lays the groundwork for AI systems that leave no one behind, either,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfied, US ambassador to the United Nations.

“It emphasizes that no one should use AI to undermine peace or repress human rights. It calls on those creating this technology to be responsible when it comes to developing and launching new capabilities, and to root out bias and discrimination in AI systems”.

The resolution comes days after the European Union parliament passed the Artificial Intelligence Act, rules which will ensure safety and compliance with fundamental rights in the development and deployment of AI tools in the regional bloc.