The Nigerian government said it has set out strategies to reap from the potential 60 million jobs predicted to be created globally through emerging technologies of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, stated this on Friday while inaugurating the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Abuja.
Mr Pantami expressed confidence that the facility will productively engage the youths, create more jobs and inspire digital entrepreneurship.
He said the initiative is in support of the job creation agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and the ministry’s National Economic Development Policy and Strategy (NEDPS).
Mr Pantami said Nigeria is pursuing the digital economy initiative to ensure it benefits from the economic opportunities being created by the digital economy and mitigate impact of technology on the conventional economy.
“The global paradigm shift from mere paper qualifications to proven skills, particularly digital skills, has necessitated the establishment of a high tech skill acquisition centre such as this,” the minister stated.
He said the new centre will serve as a leading hub of innovation, research and development, knowledge transfer and training in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and other emerging technologies.
“In addition, the centre will also create a vision for AI, develop an AI Ecosystem, support data stewardship while providing access to specialized technical skills in the country.”
Mr Pantami explained that the centre will provide a “robust platform” for achieving a digital economy for Nigeria through digital literacy and skills development and innovation .
In his welcome address, the Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Abdullahi, said going by the prediction in studies on economic impact of AI technologies, Nigeria stands to gain between $40 to $60 billion to its GDP from technologies such as Artificial Intelligence in 10 years.
“We are focused on providing support for viable innovations with socio-economic impact as well as a level playing field for all Nigerians to thrive in. As we enter the age of advanced technological breakthroughs such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Nigeria cannot be left out in harnessing the advantages of AI, Robotics and other emerging technologies. AI has the potential to add to economic growth but the impact may be gradual and take sometimes to manifest,” he said.
Mr Abdullahi explained that the centre, which is a first of its kind, public sector-driven facility, is fully equipped with training facilities, 3D Printers, co-working space for start-ups, a digital innovation laboratory, Makerspace and fabrication laboratory infrastructure, printed circuit board facilities and houses the offices of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT – REAP) and the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) NITDA’s subsidiary arm for Innovation.
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While appreciating the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy for his leadership and mentorship on the project, Mr Abdullahi challenged the youth to take advantage of the initiatives and strategies deployed by government particularly in the digital economy sector to empower themselves so as to take their place on the global stage.
He said the project is one among many of the developmental programmes being undertaken by NITDA in accordance with the agency’s mandate of facilitating the growth of Information Technology development in Nigeria.