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DG NITDA Advocates For AI Implementation To Boost Productivity In Key Sectors

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The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi.
The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi.

The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, has underscored the imperative of integrating artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance productivity across vital sectors of the economy in a bid to advance the nation’s technological landscape.

He made this assertion during his keynote address on “Artificial Intelligence: Effective Communication for National Security” at the 2023 Security and Spokespersons Awards & Conference held in Abuja.

Abdullahi emphasised that AI is more than a tool; it signifies a transformative way of establishing a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines. He urged a shift in perspective, moving beyond merely utilising AI as a daily tool toward developing systems capable of addressing specific human needs.

The director-general outlined the transformative impact of emerging technologies, especially AI, on daily lives. He highlighted the significance of controlling and training AI algorithms, such as those powering social media, to prevent them from spiraling out of control. In response to industry demands, Abdullahi advocated for “explainability in AI” or transparency within the AI algorithm to comprehend and control decision-making processes.

He expressed concern about AI going astray, emphasizing the need to ensure that AI serves humanity and does not pose a threat. Abdullahi cited ongoing global efforts to decipher AI functionalities, establish policies, and implement standards, emphasising Nigeria’s commitment to being an AI-ready nation.

Abdullahi detailed Nigeria’s approach to AI readiness, covering principles, data, and security. He highlighted the development of the National AI Policy through crowdsourcing, emphasising the collaborative effort to co-create and design policies with input from diverse stakeholders.

Underlining President Bola Tinubu’s directive to enhance productivity through technological innovation, Abdullahi stressed the importance of AI as a strategic tool. The NITDA initiated a call for research, offering grants to 45 Nigerians researching AI applications in sectors such as health, education, agriculture, finance and security.

The director-general emphasised the need to connect the unconnected to enable their digital feasibility before AI adoption. He argued that without digital feasibility, AI decisions might not consider these segments. Abdullahi also called for global standards in AI regulation to address biases and ensure compatibility across borders.

Highlighting Nigeria’s competitive advantage in digital technological innovation due to abundant resources, talents and a youthful population, Abdullahi affirmed the country’s potential in the fourth industrial revolution. He shared insights into the ministry’s strategic plan, focusing on knowledge, policies, infrastructure and trade.

In conclusion, Abdullahi reiterated that AI remains a top priority for NITDA, showcasing the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) as a testament to the agency’s commitment. The event, organised by Image Merchant Promotion Ltd in collaboration with coalition society organisations, featured presentations on Security and Spokespersons Communication Awards alongside goodwill messages.

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