Minister Announces Collaborations With Cisco, Others

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The Minister for Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, has announced strategic collaborations with Cisco, 21st Century Technologies like Awarri, and DataDotOrg, with the aim to improve technological innovation and enhancement of Nigeria’s digital economy.

The collaboration was revealed at a dinner concluding the four-day National Artificial Intelligence Strategy (NAIS) Workshop in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The workshop, themed “Developing the High-Level Strategy and Implementation Plan for a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy for Nigeria,” focused on crafting a strategy tailored to the needs of Nigerian citizens and communities.

Tijani highlighted the global surge of interest in AI and increased investments in the technology within Nigeria, citing Galaxy Backbone Limited’s allocation of over one Petabyte of storage to AI projects.

“The Pilot Compute Programme that we are undertaking, which is seeing 21st Century Technologies invest over 2 million dollars in Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). 

“It is also going to put us in a position to start building and narrating the story for why we need to invest in our computing power as a nation. 

“We all know that the strength of a network is determined by the value that each node on the network brings to it.

“If our world is truly connected, you are not helping Africa or Nigeria by ensuring that we can come to the table and participate.

“By partnering with us, you are only ensuring that our world is stronger because we have something significant to contribute to the network.”

The Minister outlined a number of strategic partnerships and projects facilitated by the Ministry to fast-track Nigeria’s growth in the field of AI.

He listed them to include the National Centre for Al and Robotics (NCAIR) relaunch, Nigerian multilingual large language model, Nigeria’s computing infrastructure pilot and the AI collective, accordingly.

Tijani explained that the NCAIR relaunch of new and improved capacity was to better fulfill its mandate.

“The Centre is a special purpose vehicle created to promote research and development on emerging technologies and their practical application in the areas of Nigerian national interest.

“As a digital innovation and research facility, NCAIR focuses on Al, Robotics and Drones, Internet of Things (loT), and other emerging technologies, aimed at transforming the Nigerian digital economy.

“The capacity building imperative is undertaken with support from global technology company, Cisco.

‘‘For the Nigerian multilingual large language model, Tijani said it aimed to build the most robust Nigerian large language model,” Tijani said. 

Also Read: Cisco Africa seeks Nigeria’s partnership in Digital Economy

He said in order to achieve this, the project would leverage the support of the 3 million Technical Talent (3MTT) programme Fellows to collate high quality Nigerian language data and fuel the development of some of the most sophisticated AI models.

Tijani explained, “The project is developed by Awarri in partnership with NITDA and DataDotOrg.”

He explained that Nigeria’s computing infrastructure pilot would accelerate the development of Al projects of national interest.

According to him, Galaxy Backbone Limited will partner 21st Century Technologies to develop Nigeria’s national computer project.

The Compute will be available to local researchers, startups, government entities working on critical Al projects that are of national interest.

“It will reside at the Galaxy Backbone Data Centre and be accessible through NCAIR,” the minister added. 

Tijani said “The AI Collective is a community of practice collaborating towards accelerating the nation’s collective prosperity through an inclusive Al Ecosystem. The collective will harness the power of Al to drive economic prosperity, accelerate innovation and social development, and position Nigeria as a leading force in AI for good globally.”

The Minister expressed appreciation to all the stakeholders for making the workshop possible, while stating the benefits of adopting cutting-edge technologies.

They include Artificial Intelligence (AI) in raising the productivity of users for our collective prosperity.

The workshop was supported by local and international organisations such as Luminate, Google, Meta, Microsoft, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR).

Others include Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Galaxy Backbone Limited, and Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF).

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