FG Develops A National AI Policy,Applauds Volunteer Expert Group

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Owing to the enormous potential that artificial intelligence (AI) has for revolutionizing technology and innovation, the Nigerian government, through the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has finished the first draft of the National Policy on AI and will soon be ready to be transmitted to the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The draft copy was co-created by a team from NITDA and 63 industry experts drawn from 351 volunteers’ applications received from Nigeria and abroad after the expression of interest was published in October 2022.

The NITDA’s Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE during the final virtual meeting of the volunteer group commended the group for the “exceptional work in developing the Policy for Nigeria.

He said NITDA initiated the process of co-creating the Policy because the Agency strongly believes that there are things it can do as the government’s establishment which the ecosystem cannot do, and there are things the ecosystem can do which government cannot do, “but together we can achieve greater things.”

While stressing the potential of Artificial Intelligence to revolutionise the world, transform industries, and save lives by curing terminal diseases and reversing genetic disorders, Inuwa maintained that it also poses a significant risks such as bias, privacy violation and job displacement hence the imperative to have a policy in place to guide the development and deployment of AI in Nigeria.

He said an implementation strategic plan would be drafted to ensure that the policy achieves its purpose, adding that the Agency would socialise with its various stakeholders and send it to the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy for onward passage to FEC for approval.

“The NITDA Secretariat will now take over and continue working on the document’s design to get it ready for publication,” he stated.

He observed that what the volunteers had achieved with the policy is commendable and it is a result-oriented approach to engage them because most of the time that consultants are engaged to draft policies, it always ends up as haphazard because they lack the technical know-how of the subject matter but the procurement processes always give them an edge over the industry experts.

Describing the draft as robust, the NITDA boss outlined seven major areas cover by the policy to include Education and Research; Finance; Health; Media and Telecommunications; Labour and Productivity; General and Special Issues (such as building safe and responsible AI, ensuring Nigerian culture and values are digitally visible); and Security.

While congratulating the volunteers for “a job well done” by ensuring that the national assignment comes to fruition, he said the policy would position the nation to create and derive values from it and avoid the pitfalls and perils that could be associated with it.

Inuwa assured them that a letter of commendation would be sent to them as no amount of money could assuage the commitment they put into drafting the policy.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the head of NITDA Legal Unit, Barrister Emmanuel Edet noted that NITDA adopted the model of co-creation in developing the policy because it would put “us in the right direction and create a policy that is effective and functional in promoting the digital economy sector.”

He expressed appreciation of the Agency to the volunteer experts and requested for their response when they are called upon again.

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