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New Techs: We’ll support startups in advancing AI research in Nigeria –Inuwa

Dr. Aristotle Onumo, Director of Corporate Planning and Strategy Department at NITDA, Representing Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Director-General of the Agency at the Event in Lagos Photo: NITDA

*Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, assures of the IT sector regulator’s commitment to supporting startups with necessary resources and initiatives in advancing Artificial Intelligence research in the country’s digital ecosystem

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In line with ongoing efforts at implementing President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda of accelerating diversification through industrialisation and digitisation, Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE, Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has pledged the agency’s commitment to supporting startups with necessary resources and initiatives in advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI) research in the country.

NITDA said Inuwa disclosed this in his Keynote Address delivered at the recent Innovate Nigeria 2024 Conference & Expo, held at the Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The Director-General of the Information Technology (IT) sector regulatory agency explained the role of government in advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI) research and its implications for Nigeria’s economic future.

Represented at the event by Dr. Aristotle Onumo, Director of Corporate Planning and Strategy Department at NITDA, the Director-General also expressed gratitude to Nova Tech for organising and hosting the conference.

He stressed the forum’s timely nature amidst the rapid acceleration of AI’s transformative potential globally.

Inuwa further stated: “There could not have been any better time to hold such a conference than now when the rapid acceleration of Artificial Intelligence presents an intriguing paradox, as its seemingly limitless potential promises to revolutionise every facet of life.”

On Nigerian Government’s involvement in AI research

Addressing the perspectives of government’s involvement in AI research in Nigeria, the NITDA Chief Executive cited global trends, where governments, including the United States (US) and China, have allocated significant funds for AI research through their recognition of its innovation drive and economic growth potential.

He equally underscored the positive correlation between government investment and advancements in AI, highlighting its projected market value surpassing $190 billion by 2025.

In regard to the Nigerian Government’s specific contributions to AI research thus far, Inuwa outlined key initiatives, which include direct investment in research and development, establishment of collaborative ecosystems, formulation of policies and regulations, fostering international collaboration and supporting education and workforce development.

He emphatically, stated that these contributions directly align with the government’s 8-point agenda, particularly emphasising the importance of creating an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive in the West African country.

“It may interest the audience to note that the 8-point agenda of the present administration aptly captures the requirements of the government in terms of what needs to be done.

“The 7th agenda, which is Accelerating Diversification through Industrialisation, Digitisation, Creative Arts, Manufacturing and Innovation resonates with the specific role of government in AI research upon which democratisation of digital service to create more economic value anchors,” noted the Director-General.

Inuwa as well highlighted NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan, which he disclosed aims to elevate the country’s AI research ranking and foster digital literacy and talent development.

While emphasising the need for collaboration and partnership frameworks to fund research as well as the government’s efforts at nurturing a vibrant innovation ecosystem, he said that the Agency’s subsidiary, the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics is open 24 hours a day to guide, nurture and support startups through the journey of conceptualising their ideas all through to the level of impact and commercialisation.

Inuwa, in his address at the forum, restated the transformative potential of AI in driving economic prosperity and emphasised the importance of collaboration between the government and the ecosystem towards exploring new frontiers of knowledge.

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