NAIROBI - The US and China are in a new race to shape the development, use and governance of artificial intelligence in Africa, even as African countries scramble to devise their own AI policies.

The two countries have stepped up efforts in recent weeks to collaborate with African countries on attracting AI investment and formulating policy.

At the American Chamber of Commerce Business Summit in Nairobi last week, the US and Kenya signed a partnership agreement enabling American companies to invest in artificial intelligence and data centers in Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy. US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said the deal would help “facilitate data flows, and empower digital upskilling.” Kenya, Microsoft, and the UAE’s G42 investment group also announced the construction of a 1 gigawatt data center powered by renewable energy near Nairobi.

China declared its intention to collaborate with African countries on AI at the China-Africa internet summit in the southeastern city of Xiamen earlier in April. China’s Cyberspace Administration pushed for the establishment of a China-Africa AI policy and the promotion of AI technology research, development, and application, including in African learning institutions.

A handful of African countries, including Egypt, Rwanda, and Mauritius have so far published national AI strategies, while others including Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa are in different stages of developing similar strategies. But regulation of AI is yet to be adopted on the continent, despite growing calls to do so.