• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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FG calls for creation of African AI Council

Language won’t keep Northern Nigeria away from AI train

By Ladi Patrick-Okwoli

The Federal Government has called for the establishment of an African Artificial Intelligence Council to promote uniform AI regulations on the continent.

The government also confirmed the receipt of $3.5 million as seed funding for its AI strategy from interested partners. Dr Bosun Tijani, the Minister of Communications, Innovations and Digital Economy, disclosed this during the closing ceremony of a four-day international workshop on National Artificial Intelligence and Strategy for Nigeria over the weekend.

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Tijani said the African Council for AI has become imperative to ensure that uniform regulations and market prospects shape the deployment of AI on the continent.

He said, “We already have the same markets and trade regulations within Africa and in some sub-regions; it is important that the future of AI in Africa follow the same pattern for ease of transactions, shared experiences and mutual opportunities and benefits.”

Commenting on the funding, the minister stated that it was championed by foreign and local partners like the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation; Meta, Google, Microsoft, Luminate, Lagos Business School, Data Science Nigeria, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and other agencies under the supervision of his ministry.

The funding comprises $1.5m in direct financing and another $2m invested by 21st Century Technologies in the pilot program. He further explained that an AI Collective for Growth initiative led by NITDA and run by Lagos Business School will receive funding from partners for the next three years.

“This is not just another workshop that ends today. Your efforts in the last four days will continue to make a lasting impression tomorrow, and we will ensure that AI takes the lead in Nigeria by action. We have been blessed with a partnership with Galaxy Backbone with a data centre already allocated to AI. For the pilot of this program, we have seen 21st Century Investing $2m into it.”

In his remarks, Kashifu Inuwa, Director General of NITDA, expressed optimism that if gotten right, the strategy will lay a foundation and help Nigeria achieve all its blueprints.

He said, “We need to win the battle today and shape our tomorrow, and we cannot afford to lose the battle tomorrow with the AI revolution. AI is going to be bigger than the internet.

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“The Internet is said to have lifted more than 1 billion people out of poverty over 30 years through the kind of value created. So, if AI is more than the Internet, imagine what it can do. This is the right time to develop an AI strategy and become an active player in the AI race.”