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Chinese envoy makes case for AI, says new technologies will spur Kenya’s development

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Mr. Zhang Zhizhong, Minister Counsellor and Chinese Deputy Chief of Mission to Kenya addressing KEG Annual Convention in Mombasa. PHOTO/COURTESY

China’s Deputy Head of Mission to Kenya Zhang Zhizhong has asked Kenyans to embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) saying new technological innovations have the potential to boost Kenya’s development aspirations and improve people’s well-being.

The Minister Counsellor, who was addressing the annual Kenyan Editors’ Guild convention in Mombasa, noted that innovations like AI hold the key to the future as they can be used, especially, to bridge the gap between developed and under-developed countries.

“It is not difficult to see from the theme of this Convention that everyone…is always thinking about the most cutting-edge issues about this country, and the world,” he said

The envoy noted that while innovations like AI can bring excitement and anxiety at the same time, they cannot be wished away because they will drive the next stage of the world’s development. He said China achieved its growth milestones because it chose to embrace new changes and new ways of doing things.

“The great success of reform and opening-up over the past 45 years, the prosperity you have seen in Beijing and Shanghai, and the “China speed” you feel when taking the high-speed train on the Beijing-Shanghai line are enough to prove that this idea is wise and effective,” said Mr. Zhang who represented the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Zhou Pingjian at the event.

The envoy said there are numerous opportunities in AI, citing the “Global Artificial Intelligence Governance Initiative” unveiled by Chinese President Xi Jinping last month during the 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

To realize development, he said China is pushing all parties to work together to guide the development of AI in a direction that is beneficial to human civilization and ensure that the “AI dividend” benefits all countries. “We oppose the construction of ideological barriers, and avoid new development gaps around the world caused by unbalanced development of AI,” he said

Besides this, he said China believes the development and application of AI should follow the principles of security and controllability, privacy protection, fairness, and non-discrimination.

On the issue of governance, the diplomat, who was posted to Kenya four months ago, said China advocates for the establishment of global AI governance frameworks, norms, and standards based on broad consensus and an increase in the representation and voice of developing countries in global AI governance.

“Efforts should be made to conduct international cooperation with and provide assistance to developing countries so that we can ensure developing countries can fairly and safely enter the era of AI,” he said

The deputy ambassador said Kenya’s digital economy has a very good foundation for the development of AI solutions and that China is always ready to support Kenya’s development agenda in this regard.

“I believe that with our joint efforts, new technologies will surely play a positive role in the well-being of the people of our two countries,” said Zhang

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