FG Vows to Position Nigeria as AI Leader in Africa, Mulls Strategic Plan

Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja

The federal government has disclosed that Nigeria would lead Africa and play a leading role in global Artificial Intelligence (AI) ecosystem, after the development of a national strategy on AI.

Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, disclosed this yesterday, at the opening of a four-day stakeholders workshop on national strategic plan on AI.

AI is the development, deployment and maintenance of computational systems that could replicate certain types of human intelligence.

The theme of the workshop was “Developing the High-level Strategy and implementation Plan for a National AI Strategy for Nigeria.”

Tijani, said with what the government was investing on AI, Nigeria would lead Africa on AI.

“We can think local, but also then say what does it mean for the world as a whole. So Nigeria is ready to become one of the leading countries in Africa when it comes to AI.

“We are one of the few countries investing in talents, IA, computers, which most countries in Africa are not doing. So, I think we can give leadership locally and also regionally, and in short contribute globally as well.

“What’s going to happen is that in about three to five years time, we will start to harmonise the different thinking. But now that we are thinking about it we can leapfrog. We don’t have to start from that silent approach,” he said.

According to him, digital technology was a reality in Asia, America, and Europe, adding that the reality should be the same in Nigeria and Africa.

Nigeria, he added, cannot afford to be left behind.

AI, he stated, was still new, adding, “Everybody is grappling. What you see is the fragments countries are taking silent approach to how they go about it. But it is a phenomenon that is global.”

The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Kashifu Abdullahi, said the approach was vital because it would help to diversify the nation’s economy.

He said: “AI is beyond just looking at it as a technology but it is a transformational technology that we can apply across sector to boost economy.

“If we get it right, it will help us to achieve a lot as a nation.

“We can use AI to develop economic diversification strategies in Nigeria and Africa. So we can design our economy diversification strategy with AI in mind.

 “The approach is fundamental because it will help us to use our diversity and expertise to create a strategy that is inclusive and also reflect our nation consensus.”

He also advised participants to develop a security strategy on national security.”

The workshop was organised by the Ministry of Communications, Innovations and Digital Economy in conjunction with NITDA, the Nigeria Communications Commission, (NCC),  the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI), Galaxy Backbone (GBB), Google and other development partners.

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