The Global South, Geopolitics, and the U.S., Europe, and China’s Competition to Influence Global AI Regulation

April 17, 2024

As the digital era continues to evolve, AI governance is becoming a critical issue that requires comprehensive and inclusive approaches. This panel discussion will address the nuances of AI governance in Africa and the broader Global South, with the goal of advocating for balanced AI governance approaches that take into account the impact of AI on labor, the environment, sustainability, human rights, economic development, privacy, and governance, and meet the needs of local communities, rather than imposing one-size-fits-all policy solutions derived from Europe.

This panel discussion, presented in collaboration with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and taking place on Harvard’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, seeks to discuss the evolving state of African AI governance and engagement in the context of intensifying competition between the US and China, and the growing dependence of African states on Chinese technical artifacts. It asks and aims to address questions including: What impedes further African participation in global AI governance frameworks? What are the prospects for enhanced collaboration between African regional bodies, the United States, and others to address shared challenges? and How can African nations leverage their agency to negotiate favorable terms with global powers while safeguarding their interests? Accordingly, the panel will bring together regional experts to examine the multifaceted dimensions of AI regulation, seeking to foster more nuanced understandings of the choices of African state and sub-state actors.

This discussion will take place on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 from 12:30–1:30 pm on the fifth floor of 1557 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts. RSVP to attend the event in person here. The Tech Institute will also host a livestream of the discussion for Georgetown Law students, faculty, and staff on Georgetown’s Capitol Campus in room 800 of 500 First Street NW, Washington, DC. RSVP to attend the watch party here. Lunch will be provided for watch party attendees.


Nanjira Sambuli is a researcher, policy analyst, and strategist interested in and working on understanding the unfolding, gendered impacts of information and communication technology adoption on governance, diplomacy, media, entrepreneurship, and culture. Nanjira is a Fellow in the Technology and International Affairs Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a Ford Global Fellow. She is also a Co-Chair of Transform Health, and a board member at The New Humanitarian, Development Gateway, and Digital Impact Alliance. Nanjira advises the Carnegie Council’s AI and Equality Initiative and the Alliance for Inclusive Algorithms. She is a member of the Gender Advisory Board at the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development. She is also a Diplomacy Moderator at the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator. Nanjira served as a Commissioner on the Lancet & Financial Times Governing Health Futures 2030 Commission, as a panel member on the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, and as a deputy on the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment.

Shikoh Gitau is the award-winning CEO of Qhala, a digital innovation company that catalyzes the digital transformation of African organizations. She is also a co-founder and Managing Partner of Q-Ventures, a human capital fund working with African subject matter experts to design tech solutions that address the continent’s most persistent problems. Q-Ventures boasts a portfolio of twelve early-stage ventures in various sectors with a bias towards women first-time founders. Shikoh has over fifteen years of experience in venture building, research, design, implementation, and management of digital technologies. She has nurtured a lifelong career in building tech innovations that solve real-world problems in agriculture, education, health, payments, retail, and renewable energies in African and emerging markets. One of these innovations is CEMA, a platform that allows health professionals and health researchers to access government health data for research and to visualize that data in ways that tell a story. Data modeling and visualization from CEMA informed the strategy of the government of Kenya in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. During her time at Microsoft, Google, and the African Development Bank, Shikoh influenced governments in Africa and emerging markets to adopt tech to affect service delivery. Shikoh developed the Digital Government Blueprint, a strategic document to guide governments in digital transformation, now adopted by Smart Africa. She holds a PhD and an MSc in Computer Science from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Osei Bonsu Dickson is the Chief Legal Advisor at the Ministry of National Security of the Republic of Ghana, an Adjunct Professor of Practice at the Center for Strategic and Defense Studies, Africa, and the National Coordinator of the United States-Ghana Security Governance Initiative Secretariat, where he leads cyber, maritime, border, and chemical, biological, and nuclear defense (CBRN) programs within the national security establishment.

Bulelani Jili (moderator) is a Meta Research Ph.D. Fellow at Harvard University. His research interests span Africa-China relations, cybersecurity, law, and critical theory. He is also a Fellow at Yale Law School, the Atlantic Council, and the Belfer Center, and is conducting research with the China, Law and Development project at Oxford University, aiming to understand the nature of the order that underlies China’s new globalism. He has advised leading think tanks and governments, and his writing has appeared in publications including African Affairs, Nature, and Politico. Prior to attending Harvard, Bulelani worked at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research in South Africa as a Visiting Researcher. He earned an M.Phil. from Cambridge University, an M.A. in Economics from Yenching Academy of Peking University, and an A.B. honors in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Wesleyan University.