The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it is committed to the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in the country, saying that AI would play a crucial role in shaping Africa’s digital future.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta disclosed this on Wednesday in his keynote address at the ongoing 11th edition of the Digital Conference and Exhibition (DACE) themed: “Artificial Intelligence and Africa” in Abuja.
Danbatta who was represented by the Head, Consumer Information and Education, Dr. Emilia Nwokolo, said the commission is working to create an enabling regulatory framework that promotes innovation while safeguarding the interests of citizens.
According to the EVC, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as one of the most transformative technologies of our time. Its potential to revolutionize industries, enhance productivity, and improve the quality of life for citizens cannot be overstated.
“I believe that AI will play a pivotal role in shaping Africa’s digital future. There are several examples of AI-powered software in use in our daily lives, including voice assistants, face recognition for unlocking mobile phones, fingerprint biometrics, and machine learning-based financial fraud detection.
“In recent years, we have witnessed remarkable advancements in AI across various sectors, including healthcare, agriculture, finance, transportation, education, and even governance.
“AI-powered solutions have the potential to address some of Africa’s most pressing challenges, such as limited access to healthcare, food security, financial inclusion, and infrastructure development.
”We are working to create an enabling regulatory framework that promotes innovation while safeguarding the interests of consumers and citizens. We are also collaborating with stakeholders to establish AI research and development centres, incubation hubs, and startup ecosystems to nurture homegrown AI talent,” he said.
He said AI has the capacity to transform the country, drive economic growth, and improve the well-being of Nigerians.
Danbatta further stated that” for Africa to fully embrace the benefits of AI, we must address several critical factors. First, we must invest in building the necessary digital infrastructure. This includes expanding broadband connectivity. In Nigeria, as of July 2023, the broadband penetration stood at 47.01%.
“Also, the continent must commit to ensuring reliable power supply and fostering a conducive regulatory environment. Without robust infrastructure, the potential of AI will remain untapped, and the digital divide will further widen.
“Secondly, we must prioritize digital skills development. AI technologies require a skilled workforce capable of developing, deploying, and maintaining these systems. We need to invest in education and training programs that equip our youth with the necessary skills to participate in the AI-driven economy. By nurturing a generation of AI experts, we can elevate Africa’s position in the global AI landscape and create job opportunities for our youth.
“Moreover, ethical considerations must underpin our approach to AI. As we deploy AI systems, we must ensure transparency, accountability, and fairness. We must guard against biases, protect privacy and data security, and uphold human rights. AI should be a force for good, promoting inclusivity and leaving no one behind.
“Collaboration and partnerships are also crucial in unlocking the potential of AI in Africa. We must foster collaboration among governments, regulatory bodies, academia, the private sector, and civil society. By working together, we can share knowledge, pool resources together, and leverage expertise to drive innovation and create an enabling environment for AI adoption.