Malawi unveiled its inaugural Center for Artificial Intelligence and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) at the Malawi University of Science and Technology, with backing from U.S.-based universities. This initiative targets addressing the country’s innovation and technology needs.
Zipangani Vokhiwa, a science professor at Mercer University in the U.S. and a Fulbright scholar, leads the project. He emphasized that the center’s purpose is to advance the study and utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) and STEAM for the socioeconomic growth of Malawi and beyond.
Vokhiwa explained, “Economic development relies on modern scientific knowledge. The center aligns with Malawi’s Vision 2063, ensuring the nation progresses with scientific advancements.”
The Center for Artificial Intelligence and STEAM (CAIST) will offer educational, technical, policy, and strategic support for emerging technologies, including AI, machine learning, deep learning, data science, data analytics, and the Internet of Things, all rooted in human-centered STEAM education and research.
A consortium of U.S. universities, such as Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Tech University, Morehouse College, Colorado University, Georgia Southern University, Clemson University, New York University, and Mercer University, provided both pedagogical and technical assistance to the center.
While concerns about AI causing job loss are prevalent globally, Vokhiwa believes the pros and cons of AI are still up for debate. He stressed that AI has the potential to create jobs since it requires people to operate AI systems.
Malawi’s Minister of Education, Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima, officially inaugurated the AI center. She expressed the importance of seizing the opportunities offered by new technologies while also addressing potential drawbacks.
Kambauwa Wirima emphasized the government’s role in collaborating with CAIST to formulate the necessary policies and regulations for the responsible use of AI. She acknowledged that AI is already present in Malawi and urged swift action.
She also revealed that the Southern African Development Community is working on regional guidelines for the ethics of AI, reinforcing that Malawi must actively participate in this endeavor.
Address Malata, the vice chancellor for Malawi University of Science and Technology, underlined the university’s commitment to aligning its operations with various development agendas, including Malawi 2063, Africa Agenda 2063, and the Sustainable Development Goals, to ensure that the center’s activities benefit everyone.