Tuesday, February 27, 2024

DG NITDA Commits To Advancing AI Research, Support To Startups

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

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has affirmed the government’s unwavering commitment to supporting startups in advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI) research in Nigeria.

This disclosure is in line with the objectives of President Bola Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda, which focuses on accelerating diversification through industrialisation and digitisation.

The agency’s position was reiterated by its director-general, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi at the Innovate Nigeria 2024 Conference and Expo held in Victoria Island, Lagos.

Represented by the director of corporate planning and strategy department at NITDA, Dr. Aristotle Onumo, Abdullahi expressed gratitude to Nova Tech for organising the conference and emphasised its timeliness amid the rapid acceleration of AI’s transformative potential globally. In his thought-provoking keynote address, Abdullahi delved into the role of government in advancing AI research and its implications for Nigeria’s economic future.

Acknowledging the global trend where countries like the US and China allocate significant funds for AI research, Abdullahi highlighted the positive correlation between government investment and advancements in AI. He emphasised the projected market value of AI surpassing $190 billion by 2025.

The NITDA DG outlined key initiatives undertaken by the Nigerian government in contributing to AI research. These include direct investment in research and development, the establishment of collaborative ecosystems, policy formulation, fostering international collaboration and supporting education and workforce development. He underlined how these initiatives align with the government’s eight-point agenda, particularly the agenda focused on accelerating diversification through industrialisation, digitisation, creative arts, manufacturing and innovation.

“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 the democratisation of digital service to create more economic value anchors,” Abdullahi explained.

NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan were also highlighted by Abdullahi as essential tools aimed at elevating the country’s AI research ranking and fostering digital literacy and talent development. He stressed the need for collaboration and partnership frameworks to fund research, emphasising NITDA’s commitment to supporting startups through the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR).

Abdullahi reiterated the transformative potential of AI in driving economic prosperity and underscored the importance of collaboration between the government and the ecosystem to explore new frontiers of knowledge. The government’s commitment to advancing AI research not only aligns with global trends but also positions Nigeria as a key player in the evolving landscape of technological innovation.

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