National AI Collaboration Will Bring Economic Development -Researchers

Scholars in the Computer Science field have said the call for a co-creation of a National AI by researchers of Nigerian descent will lead to economic development.

In a report on Monday, Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, called on top researchers of Nigerian descent from all over the world to join in co-creating a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

Tijani said Nigeria needed to develop a national strategy to harness the power of AI for sustainable development.

A document titled, ‘Co-creating a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy for Nigeria,’ which he shared on his X handle on Monday, disclosed that Al had become a multi-purpose technology transforming production and service delivery, with the potential to significantly impact economic growth and social progress.

Speaking on the development, Prof. Olumide Obe of the Computer Science Department, School of Computing, Federal University of Technology, Akure, told our correspondent that the crossbreeding between researchers and industry would lead to all-round development.

He said: “It is the way to go, I know that The National Information Technology Development Agency has an arm that is into AI and robotics, what he is saying is that it shouldn’t be limited to NITDA alone, but all researchers in the field of ICT should come together and create the national AI strategy. We are going to see the coming together of researchers and developers in the area of AI which will bring about fast growth in our economy and industry.

“There should be a crossbreeding between the academic and the industry, that is, we try to use research output to improve on industry development and academic environment.”

He complained about the isolation style of operation which he said was common to Nigerian professionals.

Obe said: “In this part of the world, we like acting in isolation. If there is cooperation between us and the role players, the industry will grow. The government should make sure they provide a platform and synergy for the academic and industry. The government should ensure the interaction is well coordinated. I think NITDA has started something like that but need to work more on academic.”

A Professor of Computer Science and Director of ICT, Lagos State University, Ojo, Prof. Oluwatoyin Enikuomehin, said AI would only work on concepts and entities that already existed, adding that the Nigerian Researchers were the ones who understood the localisation of these new IT technologies to the immediate environment.

“As a matter of fact, these technologies cannot yield expected results until the local experts, researchers here, have their input. Do not forget that AI models rely on training and learning processes. Nigerian academics should key into this opportunity so as to help society and also have a platform to implement many of the published theoretical frameworks that can change the space of doing things.

“AI must be accepted as this is what will define where we will be as academics in a globalised society.”

He added that the level of success from AI intervention would depend on the level of investment the FG was ready to make available for AI research, training, and deployment.

“The call is a good call in the first instance. FG should be genuine and very serious in this area of intervention to secure the future of Nigeria both in terms of economic viability and infrastructural engagement.

“Recall the world is now leveraging on the successes of Internet of Things, a concept that has made leaving smarter and now we are looking at what AI will bring.”