The Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) and the Center for Continuing Education (CCE) have a longstanding partnership in regional research, capacity building, and network development in the field of data and new technologies for inclusive development in the MENA region. 

Representing the data for development network in MENA, A2K4D and CCE work closely with regional partners to drive initiatives that capitalize on responsible data and AI for inclusion and achievement of the sustainable development goals. 

Early on, A2K4D worked closely with regional  partners in the region to drive initiatives in transport, solar energy, gender, air quality, health, urban planning, and education.  A2K4D has also researched the state of open data in the region, highlighting regional nuances, challenges and opportunities. Through empirical research, A2K4D has identified significant variations in AI readiness across MENA countries, underscoring the urgent need to explore responsible AI policies and solutions tailored to local needs.

In support of this mandate, the MENA Data platform was launched by A2K4D, with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and its Open Data for Development global partnership (OD4D). A2K4D has shared its research findings on AI and data for development on the platform since its inception. The Center for Continuing Education (CCE), an OD4D MENA node since 2018, has also conducted significant research on the data revolution, capacity building in data science and data journalism, and the creation of a regional community of practice to drive collaborative data projects, knowledge sharing, and resource mobilization. Notably, CCE has adopted an innovative applied learning journey approach to building a critical mass of data professionals capable of understanding, working with, and influencing data and AI policies in the region.

In recognition of the need for better and more inclusive technology, and data governance, and access, A2K4D and CCE have recently partnered on the project titled "Governing Responsible Artificial Intelligence and Data in the Middle East and North Africa". The project focuses on research, capacity-building, interdisciplinary collaboration, and policy advocacy. The purpose is to deepen understanding, strengthen capacity, and facilitate policy and regulatory support for responsible AI and data in the MENA region with focus areas including, but not limited to, health, food security and human rights.

The MENA AI Observatory was born out of this project. Launched in 2023 with the support of IDRC, the Observatory aims to provide a platform for collaborative research and knowledge dissemination on responsible AI and data governance in the region. The Observatory aims to enhance the visibility and impact of MENA research and experiences in global policy-making spaces. Overall, the A2K4D and CCE partnership continues to push for inclusive development through innovative research, capacity building, and stakeholder collaboration in responsible data and Artificial Intelligence for development.



  • To inform, influence and monitor policy making as it pertains to responsible AI for development and inclusion in MENA.

  • To promote a grounds-up approach that emphasizes local experiences, community engagement, and inclusion in all aspects of data collection and AI systems development, and to raise awareness and fill gaps in knowledge on the responsible use of data and AI in a way that is in line with the nuances of the region.

  • To connect communities – researchers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, civil society, educators and beneficiaries, by creating dynamic collaborative spaces that foster engagement between the different stakeholders to promote policy making that fulfills the promise of responsible AI for development.

  • To champion MENA voices, values, and standards in responsible data and AI governance, regionally and globally and share experiences accordingly.



We aspire to become a dynamic, inclusive and locally-driven platform on responsible AI in MENA serving as a catalyst for change by being a tool for policy making, a hub for connecting stakeholders and communities and the go-to home for any and all knowledge on responsible AI as it pertains to everyone’s lives.



Conduct baseline research on the state of responsible AI and data in the MENA region, while keeping track of emerging trends, identifying research and policy gaps, and disseminating a body of knowledge.

Provide a voice for the region in global scholarship and debates on responsible AI governance issues by creating content originating from the MENA region.

Create a diverse regional network for different actors within the data and AI ecosystem in the MENA region to share knowledge and ideas, collaborate on related projects, and advocate for responsible AI policies.

Increase social awareness of responsible AI and data in the MENA region by providing accessible resources.

Utilize responsible AI standards to impact policy-making in the MENA region.