Nigeria should aim at positioning itself as a leading AI hub on the continent, writes Sonny Iroche

Nigeria so far has been proactive in adopting artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, and in the process of integrating it into various sectors to drive innovation and economic growth, by setting up a Nigerian Artificial Intelligence Strategy Committee. 

This committee set up by the government of Nigeria is charged, amongst other things, to establish a national AI strategy and to come up with a road map to harness the potential of AI for the benefit of society and the economy. 

Some key initiatives and approaches to be taken by the Nigerian government in treating artificial intelligence should include:

One, National AI Strategy: Nigeria should launch a National AI Office (NAIO) to coordinate AI-related initiatives across government agencies and develop a national AI strategy. The strategy should focus on promoting AI adoption, developing AI talent, and building a trusted AI ecosystem.

Two, Research and Development: The government should invest in AI research and development through all the research and development agencies and the establishment of Agency for Science, Technology and Research (ASTAR). These investments should support AI projects, collaborations with industry partners, and the development of AI technologies.

Three, AI Ethics and Governance: Nigeria should establish guidelines and frameworks for ethical AI deployment to ensure that AI technologies are developed and used responsibly. The government should also set up an Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and data to provide guidance on AI ethics and governance.

Four, AI Talent Development: Nigeria should ensure initiatives to develop a skilled AI workforce, including AI training programs, partnerships with universities and industry players, and scholarships for AI research and education.

Five, Industry Collaboration: The Nigerian government should collaborate with industry partners to drive AI innovation and adoption in key sectors such as healthcare, energy, agriculture, banking, finance, transportation, and smart cities. And establishing Initiatives like AI in Health Challenges and the Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) scheme to support AI projects in these sectors.

Overall, the federal government should view artificial intelligence as a strategic enabler for economic growth, innovation, and societal advancement. By investing in AI research, talent development, ethics, and industry collaboration, Nigeria’s aims should be to position itself as a leading AI hub in the African continent and globally.

The energy of Nigeria’s vibrant, resilient, audacious and innovative young population must be unleashed and channeled into the nascent and evolving global world of artificial intelligence. The key to achieving this is a buy-in and collaborative approach between the public and the private sectors. 

 Iroche is on

Post Graduate Studies at the Saïd Business School. University of Oxford. UK

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