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Kenya’s AI regulatory model will ponder global trends – ODPC

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By Monica MUEMA

Kenya is working on frameworks to guide AI regulation in the country, with special focus areas of concern in data privacy, algorithmic transparency, bias mitigation, and the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on employment and security.

Aware of the potential dangers, Kenya will continue to pursue AI regulation in consultations with various stakeholders while picking workable global trends according to the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner Ms. Immaculate Kassait.

The goal, she says is to keep the impact of such technologies from causing the kind of disruption that results in destruction—of businesses, of data privacy, or of government programs.

She made those remarks during a media roundtable meeting ahead of the upcoming Network of African Data Protection Authorities (NADPA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) & Conference, scheduled to take place from May 7th to 9th, 2024.

The 9th AGM in Kenya presents a unique opportunity to showcase Kenya’s unwavering dedication to data protection and its position as a Silicon Savannah, with the two-day conference expected to bring together players in the tech and data protection industry.

It will also present an opportunity to fortify the implementation of robust data protection frameworks, setting the stage for a more secure and responsible digital landscape across the continent.

“Participants can look forward to delving into the nuances of data protection trends across various African countries, gaining insights into best practices, and fostering partnerships to advance data protection initiatives on the continent,” said Ms. Kassait.

This comes barely a year after the Robotics Society of Kenya (RSK) proposed a draft bill to the National Assembly, which seeks to create the Kenya Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Society, a professional body that would regulate the use of robotics, AI, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The petitioner’s aim is to establish a governing body for robotics and AI, similar to the Law Society of Kenya, which oversees law practice in Kenya.

The proposed objectives include promoting responsible and ethical development and usage of robotics and AI technologies in Kenya, as well as encouraging collaboration and knowledge exchange among robotics and AI practitioners, researchers, and stakeholders.

However, the introduction of licensing for practitioners and the prohibition of anyone working on robotics and AI without being a member of society is a cause for concern.

There has been a significant outcry among Information Technology (IT) professionals regarding the proposed bill, which appears to lack an understanding of the varied roles and responsibilities involved in AI.

The bill seeks to regulate, license, and control the field, which experts argue is impractical given the diversity of machine learning engineers, project managers, data entry personnel, and developers.

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