• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Experts call for data collaboration fostering Nigeria’s AI ecosystem

Experts call for data collaboration fostering Nigeria’s AI ecosystem

Experts in technology and media industries have called for data collaboration as part of fostering the Artificial Intelligence (AI) ecosystem in the country.

Iyin Aboyeji, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of Future Africa and Joshua Olufemi, CEO of Dataphyte, made the call on Monday while speaking on “Global AI landscape and the opportunities for Nigeria (Africa)” in Abuja as panellists at the 2024 Journalism, Digital Tech and AI Dialogue organised by Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID).

Founded in 2014, the CJID is a non-governmental organisation in Nigeria and initially known as the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).

In 2020, it expanded its footprint beyond Nigeria and moved into specific niches in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and The Gambia, including Cameroon, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Read also: Automation, artificial intelligence becoming affordable ways to achieve marketing goals Goodnews

In his words, Aboyeji sees data as the biggest point of collaboration.

“The industry can come together to say we are going to collaboratively create a data, a data warehouse or a data dock that then allows each of us to be able to, on the basis of our insights, knowledge and tools, draw particular influence that can allow us to tell, stories that help decision makers, society understand what is actually going on,” he said.

Referring to the digitalising of old newspapers – a project embarked upon by Fuad Lawal, Founder of Archive NG, Aboyeji noted that this should be an industrial effort.

He described AI as a big technology shift, adding that AI raises barriers to productivity and gives journalism a business model.

Olufemi noted that the data gap is a concern while data available are not digitalised enough and called for the media dimension of past publications to be digitalised versions.

He stated that there is a gap in the government’s data accuracy and called on journalists, and data analysts to take steps beyond the available press releases and ask questions.

Tsema Ede-Okoye, Project Lead, Joint Civic Defence Fund, backed the duo and emphasised the need for advocacy, search and proactive collaboration.

Adaora Ikenze, Director of Public Policy, META stated that Meta has always been an AI company and “we have always been a company that has been grounded in the technology of AI.”

“The fact that we have been able to give the platforms and the products that we have to the world is predicated on the foundation of AI that Facebook now Meta has always built on,” she said.

Speaking on the language model and how Meta is supporting the growth of AI in Africa, Ikenze noted that the first thing it does is that the platform has always been very intentional, noting that the foundation of artificial intelligence, the large language learning models, must be open source.

“Meta has always said that the life language model which underpins AI systems should be open source,” she said.

Read also: Unlocking the Potential: Artificial Intelligence Revolutionising Nigeria Banking Sector

CJID launches two AI-powered tools

The CJID, during the conference, launched two AI-powered tools – Dubawa Chatbot and Dubawa Audio platform.

While explaining how the tool works, Monsur Hussain, Head of Innovation at the CJID explained that the Dubawa chatbot gives access to real-time Internet data, more reliable sources, and supports fact-checkers.

“In a research study by CJID’s DAIDAC, examining 40 fact-checks to analyse disinformation themes surrounding the Lake Chad region conflict and its public Impact, findings indicate that 40 per cent of the disinformation significantly affects the public by Instilling fear and fostering distrust.

“The AI tool fights misinformation on WhatsApp, claims verification provides the latest fact-checks, and users can report a claim,” Hussain explained.

The Dubawa audio platform is an extract tool to record radio shows and transcribe and extract claims which are presented to human fact-checkers for in-depth verification.

The platform supports 3 languages – Nigerian English, Ghanaian English, and Nigerian Pidgin with key features of scheduling radio show recordings, automating YouTube downloads, uploading audio files in mp3 and .wav formats, transcription, and claim extraction.

Hussain added that moving forward, it would create a more comprehensive and robust fact-checking ecosystem; address transcription challenges in the context of African languages and accents to improve accuracy further; and advance the product to become a comprehensive media monitoring tool.

In his welcome address, Dapo Olorunyomi, CEO of CJID stated that the organisation sought to help the industry rebuild its awareness, knowledge, and response to the architecture of news coverage, news distribution, and the financing of journalism.

He called for the need to invest hugely in knowledge and not echo the mistake the industry made by its slow appreciation of the significance of social media where journalism helped build tech businesses and platforms through the value of their content.

Olorunyomi, in his address, said one of the reasons for the conference was to “showcase some of the half-a-dozen tools that our innovation and technology are building to help solve real industry problems.”

“We gather here today to draw attention to the big community challenge of what values will define this Generative AI era? There are already scores of AI use cases in journalism from news aggregation, transcription, translations, content moderation and personalization, immersive storytelling, claims extractor for fact-checkers, investigating known subjects, graphic designing [e.g Microsoft designer, Adobe’s Firefly or Dall-E3], sentiment analysis, and human resource as well as accounting tasks, that can help us do our jobs faster and cheaper, but we must not lose sight of the vivid fears that GAI will also allow misinformation and disinformation spread faster — even as they assume far more credible and believable appearance,” he added.

In their respective goodwill messages, Toyin Akinniyi, Vice President, Luminate; Assistant De-luca, Head of cooperation, Nigeria and ECOWAS European Union; Pieter Leenknegt, Ambassador, Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Nigeria; Juan Sell, Ambassador, Spanish Embassy in Abuja; commend the CJID for the programme and urges journalists to remain committed to their responsibilities as AI offers journalists power tools for news reportage and consumption.

Panellists Idris Akinnajo, Managing Editor, Premium Times; Kadaria Ahmed, CEO, Daria Media; Adeboye Adegoke, Manager, Paradigm Initiative, expressed AI is a game changer for the media but there is a need to expand beyond what technology could not in the field.

Other sessions during the conference include “the current state of AI and digital transformation in media and CSO practice in Nigeria” with Anita Eboigbe, Chief of Staff, Big Cabal Media; Fuad Lawal, Founder, Archive NG; Nelson Olanipekun, CEO, Citizen Gavel as panellists.

Other panellists at the conference include David Ajokobi, Africa Check; Hannah Ajakaiye, Editor, FactsMatter NG; Silas Jonathan, Research Manager, DAIDAC; Adejuwon Soyinka, Africa Editor, The Conversation.