CAPDAN, others want investment in AI for Nigeria’s development

By Oluwatobi Opusunju

Nigeria needs to start investing in developing homegrown Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for national development or it risks losing out in the global AI industry expected to drive growth around the world to some annual $12.5 billion revenue by 2020.

Stakeholders this week at a Lagos symposium organized by the Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN) in partnership with CODEFEST.NG to commemorate the World’s Telecommunications and Information Society Day declared that adopting home grown AI solutions will engender national development, and inspire a new level of thinking in economic transformation among young people.

It has become imperative for the country’s decision makers to model growth on AI and to encourage research on how AI can leapfrog our national development agenda, said Mr. Olumuyiwa Asaolu, a lecturer of AI at the University of Lagos.

He added that producing own unique solutions that understands the country’s local problems has the capacity to engender national development and promote security as it will minimize the input of foreign solutions to critical national data.

“We should not be satisfied as consumers but also producers of these solutions to drive economic growth as well as national development. This will also help the country in the area of security,” said Asaolu worried that AI has not drawn enough attention from the academic community, private sector, and public policy makers.

CEO of Softwareshop Ltd., Chinye Austin advised government and private institutions to invest in research and development (R&D) on AI. According to him without a proper framework for R&D and enabling environment, Nigeria might only have to play catch up with other economies.

He said the Ikeja Computer Village and other IT clusters can help to drive growth of research through highlighting the needs and behavior of customers.

For the President of CAPDAN, Mr. Ahmed Ojikutu, government has the mandate to create an enabling environment for the promotion of R&D in the country, so the country will not continuously lag behind and remain import-dependent.

His words: “This is not good for Nigeria’s economy as the country will always have to be consumers of foreign goods, when for instance a place like Computer Village which is considered as the largest ICT hub in Africa has the human capacity and technical knowhow to create the technology if given the proper environment and funding.”

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