According to professionals who spoke before the National Assembly committee, stakeholders in the AI and robotics fields were allegedly not contacted during the bill’s formulation.
The 2023 Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Society Bill has alarmed Kenyan IT specialists, calling on the country’s parliament to reject it because of several alleged flaws.
In 2024, on International Safer Internet Day, representatives from the artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics industries highlighted their lack of inclusion in the bill drafting during the National Assembly’s Communication, Information, and Innovation Committee meeting. They underlined that critical industry voices should have been consulted when drafting legislation.
Recommendations for Rules and Penalties
The bill suggests that organizations in robotics and artificial intelligence register with the Robotics Society of Kenya (RSK) to avoid fines.
Failing to comply may result in a maximum two-year prison sentence and fines of up to one million Kenyan shillings ($6,269). The RSK would supervise industry growth as a regulatory agency and guarantee adherence to set norms and regulations.
Before passing the legislation, Alex Gakuru, the Centre for Law in Information Technology director and the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kenya, underlined the importance of further stakeholder consultation. He attacked the proposal for its overemphasis on robotics regulation at the expense of more general AI issues. Gakuru issued a warning, saying that if the law is approved in its current form, it may face legal challenges and even cause a national emergency.
Artificial Intelligence in Kenya
Kenya is Africa’s fifth most prepared country to use AI to provide services to the general people. Kenya’s total score of 40.36% in the 2022 edition of Oxford Insights’ annual Government AI Readiness Index puts it below Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, and Morocco.
Kenya has invested an estimated 13 billion shillings ($81.5 million) in artificial intelligence over the past ten years, significantly less than South Africa’s $1 billion and Nigeria’s $378 million, according to Microsoft’s “Artificial Intelligence in the Middle East and Africa Outlook Report.”
The Robotics and AI Society Bill is opposed by Kenyan IT experts, which highlights the significance of thorough stakeholder involvement and cautious regulatory framework assessment to promote innovation while addressing social concerns. To ensure sustainable development in these areas, Kenya must adopt a balanced strategy that considers industry input and regulatory clarity as it works to utilize the promise of AI and robotics fully.