The Kenya Roads Authority (KURA) recently stirred controversy when they incorporated Artificial Intelligence (AI) software into their latest advertisement, drawing criticism from Kenyans who quickly spotted various inaccuracies in the computer-generated images shared by the government agency.
In their announcement about advancing “seamless road connectivity” across all 47 counties, KURA presented an AI image depicting men working, a bustling town, distant skyscrapers, and numerous wheel loaders scattered across freshly laid tarmac.
The accompanying caption read, “We are working towards a seamless connectivity across all the forty-seven Counties through the Transformation of Urban Mobility.”
Sharing another AI-generated image of what seemed to be an almost-finished road with ongoing developments, KURA captioned, “Taking shape… towards better and smart cities.”
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Despite these efforts, vigilant Kenyans on social media expressed disappointment with the overall messaging, criticizing KURA for opting to convey their message through AI and for neglecting essential road elements in the AI-generated representation.
A cybersecurity expert, Monka, initiated the critique, stating, “Even in your AI fantasies, there’s no drainage, walk lanes, cycle lanes.
Your mediocrity knows no bounds!”
Another user concurred, highlighting, “So the absence of road amenities on Kenyan roads is so deeply ingrained that even in AI simulations, you don’t have them? Wow! What amateurism!”
Some individuals struggled to comprehend the specific instructions given to the AI by KURA, as the images evoked dystopian vibes.
One user questioned, “Was this the prompt: ‘imagine bad road construction like the ones only Kenya can make.
Make it inaccessible, treeless, and crooked despite being straight. Include a normal-fingered black construction worker in the foreground!’?”
Kenyans pointed out additional flaws in the AI-generated images, such as the absence of trees, dusty roads, cars navigating an incomplete road, a highway leading to nowhere, and hawkers crowded along the roadside.
Apart from KURA, various government and private entities in Kenya have embraced AI-generated images, models, and voices to enhance their marketing campaigns, bypassing traditional marketing approaches.
Notable examples include the private school group Pioneer, which employed AI-generated TV ads, publisher Kartasi Group using AI-generated images on exercise book covers, and the popular bread brand Supa Loaf utilizing AI-generated images on billboards.
In neighboring Nigeria, Coca-Cola collaborated with local influencers for an AI-powered campaign during the Christmas period.