Digitization for Mama Mboga : Does women engagement and inclusion in AI Agri-tech matter ? Evidence from women in informal agricultural sector in Kenya

Project Goal

The project will identify and highlight barriers to women's digital inclusion, and examine ways of articulating women's perspectives in the development and application of agricultural AI systems, as well as in the associated policy processes.

Project’s summary

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are being explored in Africa for increasing food security and improving the efficiency of agri-food systems value chains. In an environment where distinct gender inequality dynamics are already evident, women form the largest proportion of agri-food systems actors in the informal sector, particularly in the production, value addition, and marketing of food.

While digitization and the digitalization of agriculture may have socioeconomic benefits for women, there is a likelihood these women being excluded from the deployment of AI technology. This poses a risk of further widening the gender gap, preventing them from equally benefiting from the digital transformation.

This study investigates how inclusion of women in Kenya’s informal economy contributes to inclusive digitization. The project will identify and emphasize the obstacles to women’s digital inclusion and consider ways to articulate women’s perspectives in the development and application of agricultural AI systems, as well as associated policy processes.

Pays : Kenya

Project leader’s name

Angella Ndaka Angella Ndaka has recently successfully completed her PhD in Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Her research study focused on Sustainable Artificial Intelligence (AI) techno-futures. She holds other qualifications e.g., Public Policy from the Australian National University, Intercultural and Multi Stakeholder dialogues and Education from Kenyatta University. Currently she is an early career researcher on Critical Socio-technical Studies at the University of Otago, and the Executive Director, and the AI Ethics and Governance research Lead at the Centre for African Epistemic Justice (CAEJ). At CAEJ, she leads research that promotes methodologies that are informed by African tech priorities and values, and complemented by global responsible research and innovation (RRI) best practices. She is leading CAEJ to be a voice in addressing epistemic injustices that come with AI investment, design, and Use – with an aim contributing to production of research outputs and policy frameworks that enhance fair and sustainable governance of AI in Africa and globally. Angella is a thought leader in complex and critical discourses of AI and emerging technology, and a great advocate of critical inclusion of women and other minority groups in tech co-design and other critical decision-making spaces. Her thought-provoking conversations and discursive politics in AI have won her a global recognition which put her in the 2023 list of the 100 most brilliant women in AI ethics. In the same year, she was declared the winner of Women in AI awards (APAC) under the Cultural leadership category. Angella has been an ardent advocate for the southern voices in AI discourses, which she does through research, blog writing, tech-talks and keynote speaking.

Team members 

Samwel Oando – Gender Expert 

Samwel Oando has a doctorate in peace and conflict studies, a MA in Economics, a MA in Gender, Women and Development Studies, and a BA in Economics. Dr. Oando has 15 years’ experience in the NGO sector and academic-based research and higher education. Much of his earlier work on gender research spans through studies on violence and discrimination including the “Stop Violence Against Girls in School” (SVAGS); Action for Children’s Rights in Education (ACRE) and the Safe Schools for Girls projects. His practice endeavours to promote equal opportunities by seeking to enhance subaltern voices. His previous work experience includes serving as the Chief Executive Officer at Peace and Development Network (PeaceNet-Kenya); Research Manager (IGNITE), besides working as a Research Officer/Analyst at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Samwel served with the UWIANO Platform for Peace, initiated a Project on ‘Countering Violent Extremism in the IGAD region’. He has also undertaken dozens of Consultancy assignments with Microde Consult. He has been working for a wide variety of donors in various countries amongst others SADC countries, Central Africa such as Burkina Faso, but also in East Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania. Dr. Oando will bring in a wealth of professional expertise.

Eucabeth Majiwa – Agrifood Systems Expert 

Dr Eucabeth Majiwa is a lecturer in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology where she teaches agricultural economics and agribusiness related courses since 12th October 2017 to date. Her research interests focus on Agriculture/Agribusiness and rural economic issues including food systems, farm level efficiency and technology evaluation and transfer that is aimed at identifying programs and policies to improve productivity and efficiency in farming and agri-business systems. She has been involved in Applied field research on circular practices in the Rwandan agricultural sector within the project Rwanda-CAE which is a Collaborative project of the University of Rwanda and Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences (HNU), Germany. The project is funded by the DAAD with financial means of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). She has attracted funding for two research projects ie. “African ai Japan project on: Improving the socio-economic status of dairy goat farmers in Kiambu, Embu and Meru Counties of Kenya and the African Economic Research Consortium collaborative research project on: impact of agricultural and a food policy on nutrition outcomes in Africa – country case studies (AFPON) – Case study of Tanzania which is on-going. She is a peer reviewer in some journals. She has successfully supervised five postgraduate students to completion and five are on-going.

Harriet Ratemo – Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technical Expert 

Kenyatta University of technology. Her PhD research work mainly focuses on AI and cyber security innovations. Harriet Ratemo is a software computer scientist and has been developing AI systems. She has in the past participated in several AI design projects. For instance, when was part of ‘Requirements elicitation for a blockchain vaccine supply chain management web/mobile application’ published in Gates Open research. She also participated in the design of MazingiraApp on real-time air quality monitoring in JKUAT, VizAfrica 2018 Visualization Symposium, 2018. As a woman in AI design, she brings insights on how women are easily excluded in the design spaces.

Centre for Africa Epistemic Justice (CAEJ - Profile

Centre for Africa Epistemic Justice (CAEJ) is a public interest consortium, formed through a collaboration of reputable academics and researchers from all over Africa, and is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. We provide a platform for African researchers to address the historical issues of knowledge and data justice through research in Sub Saharan Africa. We believe that a lack of knowledge justice is an avenue that is often exploited to promote sexism, racism, ageism, and other x-isms, that further entrench the marginalization of the minoritized groups. We therefore promote research methodologies, that are informed by African priorities and values, and complemented by global best practices, treating the African populations as sovereign people with legitimate claims to data and knowledge. We therefore aspire to support African governments and organizations to define their own narratives and futures. While we recognize that conventional research practices, autonomous data practices and broader computational skills are vital to African economic, political, and cultural autonomy in the era of technological revolution, we also are cognizant that emerging technologies are not neutral

One of our goals is therefore to work with different transdisciplinary teams, and partner with organizations to explore research and capacity building on the social issues anticipated in the design and adoption of emerging technologies and related practices, with an aim of supporting different technology actors to make decisions, formulate policies and adopt technology practices and cultures that articulate the needs, values, and priorities of everyone in technological innovations. That way, we work to ensure that none is left behind by the benefits and opportunities that come with technology.