The growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications is evident as countries across the globe are adopting it into
different sectors ranging from manufacturing, defense/ security to healthcare and education. This growth has been observed in countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
region as well. However , this is not an instantaneous implementation as a lot of planning and government efforts are required for the successful adaptation of a new technology into the existing scenario. The Government AI Readiness Index (GAIRI) is a metric developed by Oxford Insights in 2017, that evaluates parameters such as in-country digital skills, government innovation and existing data capabilities, to determine a country’s level of preparation in implementing strategies of AI assimilation. This index in 2020, evaluated by Oxford Insights and the International Research Development Centre (IDRC), assesses different countries over 33 parameters in 10 different dimensions (including governance, digital transformation, and innovation investments). The GAIRI has been evaluating different parameters and has been enhancing its criteria of evaluation to include more indicative parameters.
Integration of AI into the general working s of any country is a challenging task, observes Dr. Vishu Gupta, Head of Research,
TensaX Innovation Lab, as it requires a detailed roadmap that integrates different sectors of development. Indices such as the Government AI Readiness Index, offer essential insights into areas that require more attention in order to bring about a comprehensive growth. Variations in performance of the individual parameters are clear indications of the impact
and perception of the implemented initiatives and are essential for continued growth.
In the first edition for GAIRI, Israel and Turkey were evaluated for the AI readiness and ranked 14th and 31st
respectively out of the 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Since the parameters of evaluation have been modified over the years, a direct comparison of the rankings would not be suitable for any country. However, in the MENA region, in both 2019 and 2020 rankings UAE has led the rest at the 19th and 16th rank globally, respectively.
This global rank has to be attributed to the inventive and determined steps being taken by the government to incentivize the growth of AI in education and industry. The UAE government’s National Program for Artificial Intelligence presents a roadmap for encouraging AI applications and Robotics in UAE, with the target to be world leaders in the field by 2031.
This, in turn, is expected to provide a significant boost to the GDP and a reduction in government expenditure. The government’s
focus of growth is further seen in the launch of the Centennial 2071 which is a long term project devised to revolutionize the economy, education and government sectors. AI readiness of governments in the Middle East and the North Africa regions is increasing, as is apparent by their ranks. Ranked after UAE in the region, Israel government is successfully transitioning to AI applications in all sectors of life and governance. The countries in this area, through government initiatives, are gearing increasingly towards enhancing data capabilities and building on digital skills.
As seen in the 2020 Government AI readiness Index, following the UAE at the 16th position, Israel is ranked at
the 20th followed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia at 37th and 38th rank globally, respectively. The 2020 Government AI rankings also included an aspect of responsible use of AI in its implementations. With 34 countries being evaluated on how socially and sustainably AI is being implemented, the AI responsibility rank is a challenge and an area to develop for countries with top ranks in the AI readiness.
A country’s rankings are further reflected in other indices that are being evaluated for the countries globally. Within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a collaborative association of 6 countries in the Gulf, the UAE again takes the lead in terms of development. In the Global Innovation Index (GII)
released for 2020, Israel, UAE and Turkey bag the top spots for the region.