Africa Can Overcome Major Challenges with AI, Says NCC 

Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has stated that Africa can overcome her major challenges of poverty, food security, and access to healthcare, among others with adequate adoption and deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

He stated this yesterday in his keynote address at the 11th edition of Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition holding in Abuja.

Danbatta stated that AI has the potential to provide solutions to major challenges faced by African countries, and as a continent.

“AI-powered solutions have the potential to address some of Africa’s most pressing challenges, such as limited access to healthcare, food security, financial inclusion, and infrastructure development,” he said.

However, he noted that for Africa to fully embrace the benefits of AI, “we must address several critical factors. First, we must invest in building the necessary digital infrastructure. This includes expanding broadband connectivity.”

“In Nigeria, as of July 2023, the broadband penetration stood at 47.01 per cent. Also, the continent must commit to ensuring reliable power supply and fostering a conducive regulatory environment. Without robust infrastructure, the potential of AI will remain untapped, and the digital divide will further widen.

“Secondly, we must prioritise digital skills development. AI technologies require a skilled workforce capable of developing, deploying, and maintaining these systems. “We need to invest in education and training programmes that equip our youth with the necessary skills to participate in the AI-driven economy. By nurturing a generation of AI experts, we can elevate Africa’s position in the global AI landscape and create job opportunities for our youth,” the NCC chief executive stated.

According to Danbatta, “ethical considerations must underpin our approach to AI. As we deploy AI systems, we must ensure transparency, accountability, and fairness.

“We must guard against biases, protect privacy and data security, and uphold human rights. AI should be a force for good, promoting inclusivity and leaving no one behind.”

“Collaboration and partnerships are also crucial in unlocking the potential of AI in Africa.

“We must foster collaboration among governments, regulatory bodies, academia, the private sector, and civil society. By working together, we can share knowledge, pool resources together, and leverage expertise to drive innovation and create an enabling environment for AI adoption.”

He assured Nigerians and Africans of the readiness of the NCC to fully support the adoption and deployment of AI.

“The Nigerian Communications Commission is fully committed to supporting the development and deployment of AI technologies in Nigeria and across the continent.

“We are working to create an enabling regulatory framework that promotes innovation while safeguarding the interests of consumers and citizens.” He added

“We are also collaborating with stakeholders to establish AI research and development centres, incubation hubs, and startup ecosystems to nurture homegrown AI talent,” he stresses

Chairman, Digital Africa, Dr. Evans Woherem, in his speech said that Africa once led the rest of the world and can still bridge the gap between her and the rest of the world with regards to technology and development.

Woherem stated that there was a time Africa was leading the whole world with regard to technology, but after some years, as a result of so many things that happened to her, including slavery, colonialism and has been unfortunate to have had some series of leaders that did not see the urgency in regards to development.

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