The Nigerian Government is set to establish Emerging Technology Centres across the country.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami disclosed this during the Digital Africa Annual Conference.
Pantami who addressed the conference virtually stated that this year’s theme; Building a New Africa with AI and Blockchain” could not have come at a better time considering the efforts of the government to boost emerging technologies in Nigeria.
He restated that the seventh pillar of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) focuses exclusively on developing emerging technologies among the populace.
Pantami noted that one of the ways of achieving this has been through the establishment of the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) and two virtual institutions currently building capacities in Artificial Intelligence, (AI) Blockchain technology, Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud Computing, Robotics and various other related fields.
He said “The development of a National Policy on Emerging Technologies, as part of NDEPS, which will further support the establishment of Emerging Technology Centres in Nigeria is underway”
“In addition, we are establishing a National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre, the first National ICT Park and have established a National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics”.
He further stressed that “the primary objective of these is to create an atmosphere that would usher in innovation-driven culture among the Nigerian populace. We are also actively preparing to take advantage of Blockchain technologies for our digital economy, and we recently developed a National Blockchain Adoption Strategy”
The Minister emphasised that digital identity is foundational to any digitization efforts adding that “We have actively encouraged citizens to obtain their National Identity Numbers (NIN) and there are now over 56 million enrollments”
“The current number of monthly enrolments has increased significantly (by about 500%) to over 2.6 million registrations. There has also been a remarkable increase in the number of enrolment centres across the country with about 3,800 centres available for enrolments”
On the issue of Privacy, Dr. Pantami pointed out that with the transition to digital platforms, “it is crucial that we ensure privacy and the safety of online transitions. This is the focus of Soft Infrastructure pillar.”
“Privacy concerns that result from digitization are also being addressed in the Soft Infrastructure pillar, through the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) 2019 and the Guidelines for the Management of Personal Data by Public Institutions 2020″.
The Minister reiterated the importance of supporting home grown innovation noting that “this has been addressed in the Indigenous Content Development and Adoption pillar. We developed a National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications to support this goal.”
Need for collaboration
He maintained that the stimulation of innovation and the effective harnessing of emerging technologies is central to addressing the African continent’s demands in sustainable development, economic growth.
Africa has the opportunity to harness the digital technologies as a key driver of growth and innovation.
“We need to expand broadband infrastructure, provide our citizens with digital skills, and provide the enabling environment for our digital entrepreneurs to thrive, amongst others. It is therefore imperative that we work together towards achieving our national and regional development plans in building the Africa we want”
Dr. Pantami applauded the Chairman of Digital Africa Dr Evans Woherem for his continuous support and commitment towards a Digital Nigeria also noting “that Emerging Technologies have the potential for world domination and Nigeria aims to take advantage of its vast potential to become a leading nation in Africa,” he added.