Nigeria receives $3.5m seed fund for AI development – minister

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 Abuja, April 21, 2024 -The Federal Government has received $3.5 million seed fund for Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy from interested partners. 

Bosun Tiajani, The Minister of Communications, Innovations and Digital Economy, disclosed this in Abuja at the closing ceremony of a four-day international workshop on National Artificial Intelligence and Strategy for Nigeria.

He said the seed fund was in support of Nigeria’s efforts in AI systems and its deployment in Nigeria. 

The minister said the donation came from foreign and local partners such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNESCO, Meta, Google, Microsoft, Luminate, Lagos Business school and Data Science Nigeria, NITDA and other agencies under the supervision of his Ministry. 

He said the fund comprised $1.5m direct funding and another $2m invested into the pilot program by 21st Century Technologies

The minister said with a collective pool of resources by both local and foreign partners, there was nothing impossible for Nigeria to achieve with the AI strategy.  

He said Nigeria would need the strategy now to prepare the citizens ahead of the future as AI would come to Nigeria same way it would come to young people in Kenya and America. 

Tijanni said the Federal Government had advocated for the establishment of African Council for Artificial Intelligence (AI).

He said the African Council for AI had become imperative to ensure that the deployment of Artificial Intelligence in Africa is shaped by uniform regulations and market prospects. 

“We already have same markets and trade regulations within Africa and in some sub-region, it is important the future of AI in Africa follow same pattern for ease of transactions, shared experiences and mutual opportunities and benefits.”

Tijani said the AI Collective for Growth initiative, led by NITDA and run by Lagos Business School, would receive the funding from partners for the next three years.

‘‘This is not just another workshop that ends today, your efforts in the last four days will continue to make a lasting impression for tomorrow and we will by action ensure AI takes lead in Nigeria.

‘‘We have been blessed with a partnership with Galaxy Backbone with a data centre already allocated to AI.  For the pilot of this program, we have  seen 21st Century Investing $2m into it.  

‘‘My experience over the past 7 to 8 months is about supporting visions, to be able to articulate and come up with solutions. Funding resources and manpower is not a problem for Nigeria. 

“With president we have today, Nigeria can even fund some of these things because it is willing to invest in deep infrastructure.

‘’When we come together, there is nothing we cannot do.  We may not understand the significance of this event, but for me, the approach to AI is to overcome the power of fear and one that is followed with extreme resources.

“Certain nations that were expected to participate in it did not, but it heartwarming that we other collaboration with NITDA and other partners funding this initiative.”   (GBN)

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