FG launches National Centre for AI, robotics to spur innovation, create job opportunities

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By Ogaga Ariemu, Abuja

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami has said that the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will engage Nigerian youths actively to support economic diversification, create more jobs and spur innovation amongst Nigeria’s digital entrepreneurs.

Pantami made this disclosure to Nigerian NewsDirect Newspaper at the commissioning ceremony of the National Centre for AI and Robotics last week in Abuja.

Pantami in his speech re-emphasized that the project is in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS).

According to him, “Artificial Intelligence is the Refinery of the digital economy and Robotics is very useful in supporting companies as they carry out repetitive tasks. These are 2 very important emerging technologies that will shape the face of future technologies and we have decided to be proactive to enable us play a key role in how these technologies evolve.

“The Centre is central to our National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria and is in alignment with the mandates of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on job creation and economic diversification.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution, fuelled by Big Data, propelled by robust computing capacity, advanced software and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is ushering new ways of living, well-being, learning, travelling and working. Its innovative use-cases are quickly changing lives for the better and creating new types of jobs.

“It is predicted that by the year 2025, AI will be a $190 billion business. 83per cent of companies are also reported to state that AI is their strategic priority for the future. 1,543 AI startups raised $10billion in funding in 2017. AI has a significant impact in all sectors and has played a very important role in the fight against COVID-19”, he said.

Chairman of the Ceremony, Honourable Minister for Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Mohammad Musa Bello, commended Dr. Pantami for his unprecedented strides in the sector.

He disclosed that the remarkable achievements in the sector have impacted on not just the sector, but the nation’s economy as a whole citing the steady rise in the sector’s contribution to the Nation’s GDP.

In his remarks, the Director General/Chief Executive National Information Technology Agency (NITDA), Mr. Kashifu Abdullahi stating the importance of the project said:

“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.”

The Centre which was built by National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, and located in Wuye District of Abuja is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities such as Digital Innovation Lab that will serve as a one-stop shop for digital innovation support; Makerspace and Fabrication Lab (Fab Lab) Infrastructure that will support Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurs (IDEs) with their ideas and businesses; Printed Circuit Board Facilities; 3D Printer; Abuja MIT Reap Office; Co-working space for startups and Training facilities.

The National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics is aimed at fostering the development of emerging technologies.

The Centre’s activities will focus on preparing Nigeria for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria.