At the 18th International Economic Forum on Africa, at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in October 2018, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana gave our two organisations a challenge. He requested a technical investigation into why African governments are increasingly turning to emerging economies, notably China, for large infrastructure projects, with the more compact timeframes that their policy banks and contractors offer, compared with Africa’s mainstream development partners. This report is a response to that challenge and a result of our work together through a programme of case studies, research and high-level expert discussions, to contribute elucidating this phenomenon.
This paper identifies and measures developments in science, algorithms and technologies related to artificial intelligence (AI). Using information from scientific publications, open source software (OSS) and patents, it finds a marked increase in AI-related developments over recent years. Since 2015, AI-related publications have increased by 23% per year; from 2014 to 2018, AI-related OSS contributions grew at a rate three times greater than other OSS contributions; and AI-related inventions comprised, on average, more than 2.3% of IP5 patent families in 2017. China’s growing role in the AI space also emerges. The analysis relies on a three-pronged approach based on established bibliometric and patent-based methods, and machine learning (ML) implemented on purposely collected OSS data.