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Zambia working with EU on AI strategy

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Zambia is working on an artificial intelligence (AI) strategy and a regulatory framework to spur the adoption of the technology, the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology has revealed.

Speaking during the Future of AI in Africa Conference at the capital of Lusaka, Minister Felix Mutati revealed that the government has partnered with the Tony Blair Institute to formulate its AI strategy.

Zambia joins several other African countries in integrating AI as the technology’s adoption and impact have skyrocketed. Rwanda recently revealed that it’s developing a National AI Policy, while Nigeria launched a multi-lingual LLM in April trained in local languages. Last month, the African Union adopted the Continental AI Strategy to guide the region’s collective AI vision.

For Zambia, the AI strategy is just the beginning. According to the minister, it’s as imperative to implement enabling regulations to support the growth of the technology in the Southern African nation.

This has led the Zambian government to a partnership with the European Union to develop the Startup Bill, geared towards eliminating barriers to AI adoption.

The government is also revising the existing Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act to include AI.

In his speech, Minister Mutati called on Zambians to integrate AI “for insights, for decision making and for improving the quality of life. That is what for me AI is about.”

One key hurdle towards AI adoption in Africa is a lack of skills. Mutati believes the best way to address the challenge is to integrate AI into the country’s curriculum, especially at the college level. He called on Zambian educators to “prepare the next generation for the era of AI.”

The Zambian government is already leveraging AI in some key public sectors. Zambian Revenue Authority Commissioner General Dingani Banda revealed that the tax agency uses AI to analyze data, detect fraud, and respond to customer queries through its chatbots.

Africa lags behind other regions in AI adoption. According to a recently launched AI Preparedness Index by the IMF, the region scored 0.34, with South Africa the highest ranked at 0.5. In contrast, North America and Europe scored 0.74 and 0.63, respectively.

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