Monday, May 20, 2024

Ministry partners Cisco, others to boost digital economy

The minister noted the increased attention on AI across the world and growth in investments in technology in Nigeria.

• April 20, 2024
AI logo
AI logo[Credit: LinkedIn]

The Minister for Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani has announced strategic partnerships with Cisco, 21st century technologies such as Awarri and DataDotOrg.

Mr Tijani made the announcements while speaking at a dinner to mark the end of a four-day National Artificial Intelligence Strategy Workshop in Abuja.

The workshop was with the theme: “Developing the High-Level Strategy and Implementation Plan for a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy for Nigeria.’’

He informed that the partnerships would drive technological innovation and boost Nigeria’s digital Economy.

Mr Tijani said that the workshop was to formulate a strategy focused on addressing the needs of Nigerian citizens and communities.

He noted the increased attention on AI across the world and growth in investments in the technology in Nigeria saying: “Over one Petabyte of storage is already being allocated to AI projects in Nigeria by Galaxy Backbone Limited. The Pilot Compute Programme that we are undertaking, which is seeing 21st Century Technologies invest over two million dollars in the Graphics Processing Unit.  

“It is also going to put us in a position to start building and narrating the story of why we need to invest in our computing power as a nation. We all know that the strength of a network is determined by the value that each node on the network brings to it. If our world is truly connected, you are not helping Africa or Nigeria by ensuring that we can come to the table and participate.

 “By partnering with us, you are only ensuring that our world is stronger because we have something significant to contribute to the network.”

 The minister outlined a number of strategic partnerships and projects facilitated by the ministry to fast-track Nigeria’s growth in the field of AI.

 He listed them to include the National Centre for Al and Robotics relaunch, Nigerian multilingual large language model, Nigeria’s computing infrastructure pilot and the AI collective, accordingly.

Mr Tijani explained that the NCAIR relaunch of new and improved capacity was to better fulfill its mandate.

 “The centre is a special purpose vehicle created to promote research and development on emerging technologies and their practical application in the areas of Nigerian national interest.

 “As a digital innovation and research facility, NCAIR focuses on Al, Robotics and Drones, Internet of Things (loT), and other emerging technologies, aimed at transforming the Nigerian digital economy. The capacity building imperative is undertaken with support from global technology companies,” Tijani said.

He said to achieve this, the project would leverage the support of the 3 Million Technical Talent programme Fellows to collate high quality Nigerian language data and fuel the development of some of the most sophisticated AI models.

 Tijani explained, “The project is developed by Awarri in partnership with NITDA and DataDotOrg.”

 He explained that Nigeria’s computing infrastructure pilot would accelerate the development of Al projects of national interest.

 According to him, Galaxy Backbone Limited will partner 21st Century Technologies to develop Nigeria’s national computer project.

 “The compute will be available to local researchers, startups, government entities working on critical Al projects that are of national interest. It will reside at the Galaxy Backbone Data Centre and be accessible through NCAIR,” the minister added.

Mr Tijani said, “The AI Collective is a community of practice collaborating towards accelerating the nation’s collective prosperity through an inclusive Al Ecosystem. The collective will harness the power of Al to drive economic prosperity, accelerate innovation and social development, and position Nigeria as a leading force in AI for good globally.”

 The minister expressed appreciation to the stakeholders for making the workshop possible, while stating the benefits of adopting cutting-edge technologies.

They include Artificial Intelligence in raising the productivity of users for our collective prosperity.

 The workshop was supported by local and international organisations such asq Luminate, Google, Meta, Microsoft, National Information Technology Development Agency, National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.  

Others include Nigerian Communications Commission, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, United Nations Development Programme, Galaxy Backbone Limited, and Universal Service Provision Fund.

Artificial intelligence refers to computer systems capable of performing complex tasks that historically only a human could do, such as reasoning, making decisions, or solving problems.


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