Communications Minister Unveils AI Strategy, Forges Key Partnerships to Propel Nigeria’s Digital Economy

Dr. ‘Bosun Tijani, Honourable Minister for Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy

Nigeria’s Minister for Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, has announced strategic partnerships with technology industry giants, including Cisco and 21st Century Technologies, among others, which the country plans to leverage to spearhead technological innovation and bolster its digital economy in the coming years. The Minister unveiled the partnerships at the conclusion of the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy (NAIS) Workshop, which took place in Abuja from April 15 to 18, 2024

The announcement was made at the culmination of the intensive four-day workshop. Dr. Tijani, in his opening remarks, expressed gratitude to all stakeholders for their contributions and emphasized the transformative potential of cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) in enhancing productivity and fostering collective prosperity.

Dr. Tijani said: “With over 1 Petabyte of storage already allocated to AI projects by Galaxy Backbone Limited, and significant investments by 21st Century Technologies in Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), Nigeria is poised to harness the power of AI to drive national development.”

Highlighting the significance of collaboration, Dr. Tijani underscored the importance of partnerships in strengthening Nigeria’s position in the global technological landscape. He affirmed that: “By partnering with us, you are not only empowering Nigeria but also reinforcing the strength of our interconnected world.”

The Minister unveiled a series of strategic initiatives aimed at accelerating Nigeria’s advancement in AI, including: NCAIR Relaunch; Nigerian Multilingual Large Language Model; Nigeria’s Computing Infrastructure Pilot; and The AI Collective.

He spoke about the relaunch of new and improved capacity at the National Centre for Al and Robotics (NCAIR) to better fulfil its mandate. A special purpose vehicle created to promote research and development on emerging technologies and their practical application in the areas of Nigerian national interest, the Centre is a digital innovation and research facility that focuses on Artificial Intelligence (Al), Robotics and Drones, Internet of Things (loT), and other emerging technologies, aimed at transforming the Nigerian digital economy. It is a collaborative initiative with global technology leader Cisco.

He also announced the launching of Nigerian Multilingual Large Language Model, a groundbreaking project in partnership with Awarri, NITDA, and DataDotOrg, to develop a robust Nigerian language model leveraging the expertise of the 3 Million Technical Talent (3MTT) programme Fellows. The Fellows will collate high quality Nigerian language data and fuel the development of some of the most sophisticated AI models.

Galaxy Backbone Limited will collaborate with 21st Century Technologies to establish a national computing infrastructure, the Nigeria’s Computing Infrastructure Pilot, to accelerate the development of Al projects of national interest that will be available to local researchers, startups, and government entities working on critical Al projects that are of national interest. It will reside at the Galaxy Backbone Data Centre and accessible through NCAIR.

The AI Collective, a collaborative community focused on harnessing AI for economic prosperity, innovation, and social development, positioning Nigeria as a global leader in AI for good, will be established.

Dr. Tijani emphasized the imperative of effective governance and policy frameworks to oversee the deployment and utilization of AI, stressing the need to create platforms conducive to innovation and growth.

The NAIS Workshop, attended by over 120 AI researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders from across the globe, resulted in the formulation of a comprehensive national AI strategy. The strategy document outlines key imperatives, policies, investments, and governance structures necessary to propel Nigeria towards an AI-driven economy.

The workshop which explored the theme “Developing the High-level Strategy and Implementation Plan for a National AI Strategy for Nigeria,” was supported by local and international organizations including Luminate, Google, Meta, Microsoft, NITDA, NCAIR, NCC, UNESCO, UNDP, Galaxy Backbone Limited, and USPF.

The unveiling of the AI strategy and strategic partnerships marks a pivotal moment in Nigeria’s journey towards technological advancement, promising to unleash the full potential of AI for the benefit of Nigerian citizens and communities.