f<a+i>r Middle East and North Africa Hub
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Middle East and North Africa Hub

The Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D), at the American University in Cairo’s School of Business is proud to be the Middle East and North Africa Hub ( MENA Hub) of the A+ alliance network.  A2K4D is a regional hub for research investigating the role of digital technologies and innovation in promoting inclusive development, with focus on Egypt, the Arab World, and Africa. The Center’s activities are interdisciplinary, encompassing the inclusive dimensions of artificial intelligence, innovation, digital platforms, new business models, new forms of digital work, alternative knowledge governance, data governance and open data practices in the digital economy. At A2K4D we adopt a gendered lens across all our research and capacity building efforts.

The Center’s existing and growing partnerships and collaborations strategically position it to foster a sustainable MENA A+ alliance network. A2K4D is an active member of several research partnerships, including Open Data for Development (OD4D), Open African Innovation Research partnership (Open AIR), Fairwork Network, Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centers (NoC), The Access to Knowledge Global Academy (A2KGA),  EQUALS Research Partnership. We also work in close partnership with civil society organizations like Take Back the Tech.  

As the MENA hub of the A+ alliance, A2K4D’s activities will involve knowledge creation and awareness raising about novel technologies and data  for development. A2K4D will harness its local, regional and global partnerships to bring together and grow a MENA wide feminist AI network of multidisciplinary stakeholders including institutions and individuals who are passionate about how applied AI can make positive change in the region. We will host a  series of webinars to synergize efforts by social scientists, economists, data scientists, techies and domain experts who are grappling with unprecedented pace of technological change against a backdrop of growing multifaceted inequalities in MENA, especially with regards to gender, knowledge creation and awareness raising about novel technologies and data for development.  

Incubating Feminist AI: MENA f<a+i>r Hub’s First Network Meeting

Speakers: Soraj Hongladarom, Caitlin Kraft-Buchman, Nadine Moawad, Nagla Rizk and Amira Salah-Ahmed.

Moderator: Nadine Weheba

Date: Wednesday, Dec 14th 2022

The first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) f<a+i>r Hub’s network meeting was held on Wednesday 14th Dec 2022 at 3.30pm Cairo local time via Zoom. The Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) at the American University in Cairo, School of Business introduced the f<a+i>r Hubs Network and brought together key stakeholders in MENA in an action-oriented conversation on how new technologies such as AI can be harnessed to address MENA’s most pressing developmental problems with focus on gender inclusion.

Key issues discussed:

  • Digital and analogue divides are intertwined and can be exacerbated by AI.
  • Feminists need to invest their efforts in proactively creating the future that we want to live in rather than just reacting.
  • AI can play a role in promoting awareness of the way technology can be intertwined with socioeconomic problems and can be utilized for achieving equality and justice.
  • What is coming for humanity is impossible to predict, but it is necessary to try all approaches to ensure the future is fair for women.
  • There are high level plans on investing in AI for smart cities, pensions, healthcare etc. in the region and in Egypt in particular however there are not enough women or youth present at these tables. No one is currently looking at AI with a feminist lens.
  • There is a huge disconnect between those working in feminist spaces and those working in tech. We need to bring both groups together to share knowledge and have discussions. We also need to include major stakeholders involved in decision and policy making.
  • There is an urgent need to build an open data platform that hosts data sets from the MENA region to produce AI models for the MENA region instead of relying on tech produced by the West.