DG NITDA Promises To Keep Assisting Startups In Nigeria To Promote AI Research

To carry out President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s (GCFR) Renewed Hope Agenda, which aims to accelerate diversification through industrialization and digitization, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, has promised that the government will continue to provide the necessary resources to new businesses in the nation and support initiatives that advance artificial intelligence (AI) research.

This was revealed by Inuwa during his insightful keynote speech on the government’s role in developing AI research and its consequences for Nigeria’s economic future at the Innovate Nigeria 2024 Conference & Expo, held at the Landmark Event Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos.

The DG thanked Nova Tech for planning and hosting the conference and emphasised its timely nature given the increasing acceleration of AI’s revolutionary potential on a global scale. The DG was represented by Dr. Aristotle Onumo, Director, Corporate Planning and Strategy Department, Agency.

“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.

When discussing the views of governments on their involvement in AI research, Inuwa started by pointing out international patterns in which governments, such as those in the US and China, have allotted substantial sums of money for AI research because they understand the technology’s ability to spur innovation and economic growth.

He emphasised that government funding is positively correlated with AI breakthroughs, noting that the technology is expected to reach a market value of over $190 billion by 2025.

Speaking about the contributions made by the Nigerian government to AI research, Inuwa listed several important programmes, such as direct funding for R&D, the creation of cooperative ecosystems, the creation of laws and policies, the promotion of international cooperation, and the assistance of workforce development and education.

He made it clear that these contributions are in line with the government’s eight-point strategy, stressing in particular how crucial it is to foster an environment that is supportive to innovation and entrepreneurship.

“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”.

“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.

Inuwa went on to discuss NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan, which aims to improve talent development and digital literacy while also raising the nation’s AI research ranking.

The speaker emphasised the importance of collaboration and partnership frameworks in funding research and supporting government efforts to foster a thriving innovation ecosystem. Additionally, the speaker mentioned that the Agency’s subsidiary, the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, is available around-the-clock to assist, mentor, and guide startups as they develop their ideas and reach the stage of impact and commercialization.

Inuwa concluded by restating the revolutionary potential of AI in promoting economic growth and highlighting the significance of government-ecosystem cooperation in advancing knowledge.