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Minister unveils plans to co-create Nigeria’s national AI strategy



In a rapidly evolving world where technology propels industries and economies  at an unprecedented pace, Nigeria is emerging as a powerhouse in the tech startup scene, embarking on a visionary journey to create a National AI Strategy. Unveiled by the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation & Digital Economy, the plan or roadmap not only pledges economic diversification but also inclusive growth and sustainable development.

The drive behind this innovative approach is reflected in the words of the newly appointed Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, who recently shared, “we’re curating a list of the top researchers of Nigerian descent from all over the world to join us in co-creating a National AI Strategy.” This strategy aims to harness the expertise of researchers, to tackle the nation’s most pressing challenges using innovative tech solutions.

Beyond mere buzzwords, Artificial Intelligence stands as a transformative force capable of revolutionizing economies and societies alike. According to projections, AI could contribute a staggering $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. A significant portion of this sum, $3 trillion, is expected to result from increased productivity, while $9.1 trillion will stem from novel products and services.

Nigeria, with its burgeoning tech startup ecosystem, has been a focal point on the African continent. With substantial funding pouring into African tech startups, Nigeria’s innovation prowess is evident. The country is poised to leverage AI to diversify its economy and foster inclusive growth under strategic leadership.

Nevertheless, the journey forward isn’t without its challenges. As AI permeates critical domains like healthcare, finance, and security, the Ministry notes concerns regarding ethics, bias, transparency, job displacement, and privacy exist. Striking a balance between reaping AI’s benefits and managing these challenges is of paramount importance.

Acknowledging the complexity, the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation & Digital Economy advocates for a human-centered approach. Ensuring fairness, accountability, and equity in AI systems across diverse lines of gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status is a core consideration.

The National AI Strategy for Nigeria is an audacious initiative. Building on the groundwork laid by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), this strategy embraces a co-creation approach involving leading AI researchers of Nigerian descent globally. Notably, the strategy’s innovation extends to its selection process, employing machine-supported decision-making. While this initial identification may yield potential candidates, public engagement through crowdsourcing aims to refine the list and overcome any false positives.

This collaborative endeavor seeks to enhance the selection process and curate a roster of top AI researchers aligned with Nigeria’s vision of ethical, inclusive, and impactful AI innovation using two homegrown machine learning models.

Nigeria’s path toward a National AI Strategy exemplifies its commitment to embracing cutting-edge technology while prioritizing the welfare and opportunities of its citizens. Through rigorous methodologies, machine learning, and public collaboration, the nation aspires to shape an AI-driven future that elevates society and fosters sustainable development.

Read also: Nigeria’s Digital Infrastructure Targeted: NITDA Issues Cybersecurity Alert

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