DG NITDA Commits Ongoing Support to Startups Advancing AI Research in Nigeria

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During the Innovate Nigeria 2024 Conference & Expo held at the Landmark Event Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, reaffirmed the government’s unwavering dedication to bolstering nascent startups in Nigeria. This commitment aligns with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s (GCFR) Renewed Hope Agenda, aimed at expediting diversification through industrialization and digitization.

Inuwa, speaking on behalf of the administration, underscored the pivotal role of government in propelling AI research and its far-reaching implications for Nigeria’s economic trajectory. He highlighted the imperative for sustained support and initiatives to propel the advancement of Artificial Intelligence within the nation.

Represented by Dr. Aristotle Onumo, the Agency’s Director of the Corporate Planning and Strategy Department, Inuwa conveyed gratitude to Nova Tech for orchestrating the conference, recognizing its timely nature amidst the rapid global acceleration of AI’s transformative potential.

“There could not have been any better time to hold such a conference than now when the rapid acceleration of Artificial Intelligence presents an intriguing paradox, as its seemingly limitless potential promises to revolutionise every facet of life”, he said.

Inuwa initiated his discussion on government involvement in AI research by drawing attention to global trends, particularly noting the substantial funds allocated by governments like the US and China towards AI research. He emphasized their recognition of AI’s potential to drive innovation and foster economic growth, citing the positive correlation between government investment and advancements in AI. Notably, he highlighted projections indicating AI’s market value surpassing $190 billion by 2025.

Turning to Nigeria’s contributions to AI research, Inuwa outlined key initiatives, including direct investment in research and development, the establishment of collaborative ecosystems, the formulation of policies and regulations, fostering international collaboration, and supporting education and workforce development. He underscored the alignment of these efforts with the government’s 8-point agenda, particularly emphasizing the imperative of creating an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish.

“It may interest the audience to note that the 8-point agenda of the present administration aptly captures the requirements of the government in terms of what needs to be done” he said.

“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 democratisation of digital service to create more economic value anchors”, he mentioned.

In discussing NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan, Inuwa outlined its objectives to enhance Nigeria’s AI research ranking and promote digital literacy and talent development. He stressed the importance of collaboration and partnership frameworks in funding research and highlighted the government’s efforts to cultivate a vibrant innovation ecosystem. Inuwa noted that NITDA’s subsidiary, the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, operates 24 hours a day, offering guidance, nurturing, and support to startups from the conceptualization stage to impact and commercialization.

In his conclusion, Inuwa reiterated the transformative potential of AI in fostering economic prosperity and underscored the significance of collaboration between the government and the ecosystem in exploring new frontiers of knowledge.

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