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BRIEF May 10, 2021

Global Development and the Digital Economy: Analytical Insights from The World Bank


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Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for Development in the Post-COVID-19 Era

Analytical Insights | May 2021


Artificial intelligence (AI) has rapidly emerged as an important topic for the global development agenda, and the Covid-19 pandemic is also yielding new and innovative AI applications and solutions. However, the development of AI technologies remains heavily concentrated in a small number of advanced economies which have access to a strong local talent pool, a robust research and development base and access to capital to fuel growth through investment. Many countries that have seen broad development and adoption also have a national strategic direction for AI defined by their governments. This working paper explores some of these approaches to AI across 11 countries at different stages of digital maturity and economic development, mapping initiatives to different policy domain areas and identifying the tools and instruments that have been proposed to implement AI strategies.

Key Findings:

  • Stakeholders including the private sector, civil society and academia, international organizations and governments can all shape and/or support national AI strategies, as with national innovation strategies more broadly.
  • The AI policymaking landscape has a wide range of policy and regulatory approaches in the 11 countries observed.
  • While some governments have demonstrated a more "directing" approach in leading the design and execution of AI strategies such as in the UAE, others have taken a less direct role, such as in Finland where the government takes an "enabling" approach that engages stakeholders and facilitates a bottom-up process to drive AI strategy and development.
  • As policy and regulatory pathways for harnessing AI are still in their infancy, further time and research is needed to assess the outputs of these strategies and their effectiveness in order to identify best practices for developing countries.

Full Article: Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for Development in the Post-COVID-19 Era