The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, has said Nigeria is strategically positioned to lead Africa in Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain given its population.
He made this assertion today at the virtual Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition 2021 with the theme – ‘Building a New Africa with AI and Blockchain’.
“Africa, particularly Nigeria, with a growing population and dwindling revenue from oil, have put significant pressure on the economy. There is a need to harness other areas to diversify our economy. Emerging technology is one of these areas, and will play an important role in economic diversification, if properly harnessed,” he said.
According to him, digital technologies are changing the world at a faster pace than previously experienced waves of technological innovation. He clamoured for Nigeria to accelerate growth and modernize its economy through the development of a digital-led growth strategy for the Nigerian economy.
The NITDA boss explained that the flagship initiative prepared by the African Union (AU), the WBG Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) supports the digital transformation strategy for Africa and also recognizes that digital economy can help to accelerate the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the World Bank Group’s twin goals.
He recounted that, recently, a call to action was made with the unveiling of the ‘Economic Sustainability Plan 2020’ which seeks to put technology at the forefront of driving development in Nigeria.
“This conference is a meeting point for professionals, practitioners, and policymakers to brainstorm on the best ways of harnessing these technologies to the advantage of the citizenry.
“For Nigeria, a country in dire need to diversify its economy, digital economic activities are key for diversification because they transcend all aspects of human endeavours and the economic sector,’’ he said.
He asserted that at NITDA, the development and utilization of emerging technologies is one of the strategic pillars for the 2021 -2024 Roadmap and Action Plan, pointing out that the combined effort of the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) and Office for Nigeria Digital Innovation (ONDI), both subsidiaries of NITDA drive the pillar.
In his keynote address, the executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, urged Africa to take advantage of the unprecedented quantities of data, now being generated on sentiment, behaviour, human health, commerce, communications, migration and more.
“Adoption of AI solutions is expected to increase tremendously in the next few years and competition among major AI companies is expected to be intense,” he said.
He noted that, in a recent report published by Markets and Markets (M&M), the global AI market size was projected to grow from 58.3 billion dollars in 2021 to 309.6 billion dollars by 2026, describing it as a compound of enormous growth rate of 39.7 per cent during the forecast period.
He explained that blockchain is the foundation for crypto currency such as bitcoin which is one of the newest technologies that has received extensive global attention in recent times. “Blockchain serves as an immutable measure which allows transactions take place in addition to a live manner. Blockchain based applications are springing up, covering numerous fields including financial services, refutation systems, Internet of Things (IoT), health and so on, he added.”
Danbatta made reference to the ‘emergent research’, a research consulting firm forecast on small businesses which projected that the global Blockchain market of 180.7 million dollars in 2019 was anticipated to reach 1.12 billion dollars by the year 2027 and that it would be a compound growth rate of 25.6 per cent.
According to him, one major implication of this revelation is that a robust and reliable broadband infrastructure and advanced technology, such as the 5th Generation Network (5G), are required to unleash the huge economic potentials of AI and Blockchain in every country.