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South Africa is an upper-middle-income country with a per capita income similar to that of Botswana, Brazil, Malaysia or Mauritius. Despite this relative wealth, the experience of the majority of South African households is either one of outright poverty, or of continued vulnerability to becoming poor. Furthermore, the distribution of income and wealth in South Africa may be the most unequal in the world. Finally, although significant progress has been made over the last five years, many South African households have unsatisfactory access to clean water, energy, health care and education facilities.
 
It is likely that this situation will have a direct impact upon both the social and political stability of South Africa, as well as upon the nature of the country’s growth path. Recent empirical research has shown that countries with more equal distribution of income and wealth perform better in terms of economic growth than those with less equal distributions. Other studies point to the links between poverty, inequality and political instability. The introduction of policies that act to reduce levels of poverty and inequality could contribute towards the achievement of the economic goals that have been targeted by the South African government while contributing towards higher standards of living for all.
 
Although South Africa has undergone a dramatic economic, social and political transition in the last two decades, many of the distortions and dynamics introduced by apartheid continue to reproduce poverty and perpetuate inequality. The correct identification of these and the introduction of remedial policies have been identified as priorities by both government and civil society. The importance of reducing poverty and inequality has been a consistent theme of the new government. Statements made by government have recognised that planning needs to be focused on the objectives of narrowing inequality, breaking down the barriers that hamper participation in the economy and reducing poverty.
 
The pandemic has unearthed South Africa's stark social and economic differences between rich and poor. Experts say the crisis has worsened the country's ailing economy, as the government flounders to find a solution.

South Africa's economy has taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the majority of the country's population frustrated as the future looks increasingly uncertain. 
South Africa has recorded more coronavirus cases than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa.

Click here for the full article.
 
International organizations and corporations are racing to develop global guidelines for the ethical use of artificial intelligence. Declarations, manifestos, and recommendations are flooding the internet. But these efforts will be futile if they fail to account for the cultural and regional contexts in which AI operates.
 
AI systems have repeatedly been shown to cause problems that disproportionately affect marginalized groups while benefiting a privileged few. The global AI ethics efforts under way today of which there are dozens aim to help everyone benefit from this technology, and to prevent it from causing harm. Generally speaking, they do this by creating guidelines and principles for developers, funders, and regulators to follow. They might, for example, recommend routine internal audits or require protections for users’ personally identifiable information.
 
We believe these groups are well-intentioned and are doing worthwhile work. The AI community should, indeed, agree on a set of international definitions and concepts for ethical AI. But without more geographic representation, they’ll produce a global vision for AI ethics that reflects the perspectives of people in only a few regions of the world, particularly North America and north-western Europe.
 
Click here for the full article.

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Read the e-newsletter here: Issue 722: South Africa's social divide and economic woes exposed by Coronavirus

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