AI To The Future: Why African Leaders Matter

This program happened live on October 26th at 12PM


Watch the full program here:


Join The Africa Center on October 26th at 12PM ET for “AI to the Future: Why African Leaders Matter.” In an increasingly digital world, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a growing influence on our everyday lives. From social media monitoring to mapping the coronavirus pandemic to self-driving cars, AI has defined our recent past and will continue to be central to our collective, global future. “AI to the Future: Why African Leaders Matter” will explore how Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora are contributing to the field and building a pipeline of talent of people of African descent. The conversation will also discuss how these leaders are addressing the political and ethical intersections of justice and technology as well as taking action on the inherent bias of artificial intelligence and its ramifications on our past, present, and future. Speakers will include Mutale Nkonde (Founder of AI for the People), Jackie Mwaniki (Fraym), and Vukosi Marivate (University of Pretoria). The conversation will be moderated by The Africa Center’s CEO, Uzodinma Iweala.



page1image11698384Uzodinma Iweala is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and medical doctor. As the CEO of The Africa Center, he is dedicated to promoting a new narrative about Africa and its Diaspora. Uzodinma was the CEO, Editor-In-Chief, and co-Founder of Ventures Africa magazine, a publication that covers the evolving business, policy, culture, and innovation spaces in Africa. His books include Beasts of No Nation, a novel released in 2005 to critical acclaim and adapted into a major motion picture; Our Kind of People, a non-fiction account of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria released in 2012; and Speak No Evil(2018), a novel about a queer first-generation Nigerian-American teen living in Washington, D.C. His short stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications like The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair and The Paris Review among others. Uzodinma was also the founding CEO of the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, an organization that promotes private sector investment in health services and health innovation in Nigeria. He sits on the boards of the Sundance Institute, The International Rescue Committee and the African Development Bank’s Presidential Youth Advisory Group. A graduate of Harvard University and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a Fellow of The Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.



Jackie Mwaniki is the leader of Fraym’s energy practice across the globe. Jackie works with global development agencies, governments, and the private sector to rethink where and how to tackle strategic and operational issues in the energy sector. These collaborative efforts apply geospatial technology and AI to illustrate spatial context necessary for investment, planning, policy, investment, and delivery of services. Based in Kenya, Jackie has over 14 years of experience working extensively at key geospatial technology companies working with public and private sectors across the African continent. Jackie holds a BSc in geospatial engineering and a MSc in GIS and Sensing. She believes spatial awareness is imperative for decision making in economic growth, global development, and sustainable impact.


Dr. Vukosi Marivate is the ABSA UP Chair of Data Science at the University of Pretoria. Vukosi works on developing Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence methods to extract insights from data. A large part of his work over the last few years has been in the intersection of Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. Vukosi’s work in this area focuses on techniques to improve tools for and availability of data for local languages or low resource languages. He currently serves as a chief investigator on the Masakhane NLP project ( and on the steering committee of the Lacuna Fund ( As part of his vision for Data Science, Vukosi is interested in Data Science for Social Impact (, using local challenges as a springboard for research. In this area, Vukosi has worked on projects in science, energy, public safety, and utilities. Vukosi is a co-founder of the Deep Learning Indaba (, the largest Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence workshop on the African continent, aiming to strengthen African Machine Learning.


Mutale Nkonde is the leader and founder of AI for the People, a communications firm whose mission is to use art and culture to empower general audiences to combat racial bias in technological design. Prior to starting AI for the People, Nkonde worked in AI Governance. During that time, she was part of the team that introduced the Algorithmic Accountability Act, the DEEP FAKES Accountability Act, and the No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act, (reintroduced in 2021) to the US House of Representatives in 2019. Nkonde started her career as a news producer at the BBC in London, as a much sought after commentator on race. In 2019 she published a report on Advancing Racial Literacy in Tech, and her work has been featured in Wired, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. In 2021, Nkonde was part of a news report on facial recognition and shareholder activism that was nominated for a New York News Emmy. Nkonde is currently a fellow at Stanford University’s Digital Civil Society Lab, and formerly held fellowships at the Berkman Klein Center of Internet and Society at Harvard, and the Institute of Advanced Study at Notre Dame.





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