By Etuka Sunday
The federal government has commissioned the National Centre For Artificial Intelligence And Robotics in Nigeria.
The official ceremony was performed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami today in Abuja.
Pantami said that the centre was expected to help Nigeria take advantage of emerging technologies, artificial intelligence and internet of things as all these are what would drive a digital economy.
The minister while speaking said that since emerging technologies change from time to time, artificial intelligence is the engine room of digital economy.
“Emerging technologies change from time to time since they are technologies that ‘emerge’ or ‘evolve’. However, the following are generally considered to be emerging technologies at the moment: Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things,
Robotics, Cybersecurity, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, Blockchain, Big Data Analytics, Cloud Computing etc
“Artificial Intelligence is the Refinery of the digital economy and Robotics is very useful in supporting companies as they carry out repetitive tasks. These are 2 very important emerging technologies that will shape the face of future technologies and we have decided to be proactive to enable us play a key role in how these technologies evolve.
In addition to Pillar # 7, other pillars of the National Digital Economy Policy will support the activities of this Centre. For example, as part of Pillar #1 we are creating the regulatory environment required for the success of the Centre. These include related policies and regulatory instruments like the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation (NDPR), National Cloud Computing Policy, the Nigerian National Broadband Plan and the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy, amongst others.”
According to Pantami pillar 03, 05 and 08 are critical to this centre. “The Solid Infrastructure (Pillar 03) will enable broadband connectivity and this will aid the deployment of solutions developed in this Centre. The Digital Services Development and Promotion (Pillar 05) and the Indigenous Content Development and Adoption (Pillar 08) also reflect our vision for this Centre.”.
In addition he said, “the Fourth Industrial Revolution, fueled by Big Data, propelled by robust computing capacity, advanced software and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is ushering new ways of living, well-being, learning, travelling and working. Its innovative use-cases are quickly changing lives for the better and creating new types of jobs.”
He said the centre will be a national hub to all innovative research activities, “the National Centre for AI and Robotics (NCAIR) will serve as a leading hub of innovation, research and development, knowledge transfer, and training in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and other emerging technologies.”
He also said that, “the centre will Create a vision for AI in the Country, Identify AI-driven use-cases, Support Data stewardship, Develop an AI ecosystem, Provide access to specialized technical skills for AI and Robotics, cultivate a network of influential supporters and champions across the country; and Support the spread of early success stories with prioritized use cases to build and appetite for more AI activity,” he stated.
In his words, “the Centre is fully equipped with the following: Digital Innovation Lab, which will serve as a one-stop shop for digital innovation support, Makerspace and Fabrication Lab (Fab Lab) Infrastructure that will support Innovation-Driven Enterprise (IDEs) for potential entrepreneurs to convert their ideas into products and services. And Printed Circuit Board Facilities, 3D Printer, Co-working space for startups, and Training facilities.”
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello appreciated the Pantami and Inuwa Abdullahi, Director General National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), for their efforts in helping to drive home the President’s digital economy policy.
The Director General, NITDA, Inuwa Abdullahi said that the Centre was built to foster the development of emerging technologies in preparing Nigeria for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and strategy.
“This project is one among many of our developmental programmes in accordance with NITDA’s core mandate of facilitating the growth of Information Technology (IT) development in Nigeria. We are focused on providing support for viable innovations with socio-economic impact as well as a level playing field for all Nigerians to thrive in. As we enter the age of advanced technological breakthroughs such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Nigeria cannot be left out in harnessing the advantages of AI, Robotics and other emerging technologies,” he said.
He said, AI has great potentials in increasing the economy but that this will be gradual.
“AI has the potential to add to economic growth but the impact may be gradual and take sometimes to manifest according to McKinsey Global Institute. Develop countries can add 20 to 25% net income to their GDP while developing countries like Nigeria can add 5 to 15%. Nigerian GDP is around 400B USD thus AI can add between 20B to 60B USD in 10 years. This centre is aimed at achieving such unprecedented boost to our economy.”
“Nigeria does not want our country to be left behind in the global scheme of things, measures were taken and are being taken to promote and facilitate ICT development across board,” he said.