Wilberforce Murikah discusses AI Governance at the Oxford Africa Conference held at the University of Oxford

By School of Science and Technology

The School of Science and Technology is pleased to acknowledge the remarkable achievements of Wilberforce Murikah, a first-year Master of Science student at the Department of Computing and Informatics. Wilberforce teamed up with Jeff Kimanga from the University of Embu to pitch for the Oxford African Conference Seed Fund in January 2024. Their project, ‘Towards an AI Governance Framework’, was selected as one of the six finalist projects (Innovation Seed Fund | AfriSoc 2024 Website (oxforduniversityafricasociety.com) from over 150 applicants from Africa and the University of Oxford. The finalists were awarded seed fund to advance their research in different fields and travelled to the UK in May 2024 to present their work.

The Oxford Africa conference, organized by the Oxford University Africa Society (AfriSoc), is annual event that brings together students and influential global leaders to discuss the future of Africa. This year, the conference focused on: Governance and Democracy, Economic Development and Entrepreneurship, Healthcare and Well-being, Climate, Innovation and Sustainability, Gender Equity and Empowerment, AI and Technology. The conference featured thought-provoking discussions on AI governance, emerging technologies, gender equity, entrepreneurship, sustainable economic development, and democracy in Africa. Notable attendees included Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, HE Mr. Albertus Aochamub, Dr. Khetsiwe Dlamini, Senator Edwin Watenya Sifuna, Aïda Ndiaye from Meta, Maudo Jallow from the Tony Blair Institute, Ms. Janet Rogan from The Royal African Society, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa, who joined online.

Wilberforce and Jeff's project aims to bridge the gaps in readiness for governing ethical and accountable AI systems in Kenya. Their proposed approach involves a collaborative, phased strategy to develop a practical governance framework. The project includes interviews with stakeholders, focus groups, and secondary research to map out the current AI governance landscape in Kenya and identify regulatory shortcomings. By comparing Kenya's AI governance with that of other developing nations, the project will enable the identification of specific policy alignments and divergences. Inspired by Wilberforce's vision and pitch, the AfriSoc society offered to support his application to the University of Oxford to pursue his doctoral studies, through mentorship and scholarship applications.

The School of Science and Technology is proud of Wilberforce Murikah's achievements and his commitment to advancing AI governance in Africa. His innovative work has the potential to shape the future of AI on the continent, and eagerly awaits the results of his project. We wish him success as completes his master’s studies and seeks to further his studies at the University of Oxford. Wilberforce encourages other students to engage in research which will complement their studies and open opportunities.

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