In a significant address at the 11th Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition, the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, shared key perspectives on Africa’s journey towards leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI). Avoiding any detractions, Professor Danbatta highlighted the pivotal role of power supply, collaboration, and other critical factors in this pursuit.
Addressing one of the foremost challenges, Professor Danbatta stressed the imperative of securing a reliable power supply in Africa. A dependable infrastructure is a prerequisite for harnessing the potential benefits of AI, which would otherwise remain out of reach and exacerbate the digital divide across the continent.
Unlocking AI’s transformative potential across diverse sectors
AI’s transformative impact spans across diverse sectors, encompassing healthcare, agriculture, finance, transportation, education, and governance. Applications like voice assistants, facial recognition, biometrics, and machine learning have seamlessly integrated into daily life. Africa stands to gain immensely by integrating AI solutions to tackle pressing challenges such as limited healthcare access, food security, financial inclusion, and infrastructure development.
To fully realize the potential of AI, Professor Danbatta emphasized investing in education and training programs. These initiatives aim to equip Africa’s youth with the necessary skills to actively participate in the AI-driven economy. The goal is to foster a generation of AI experts that can elevate Africa’s global AI standing while simultaneously creating job opportunities for the continent’s youth.
Ethical considerations lie at the heart of AI adoption in Africa. Professor Danbatta underscored the significance of transparent, accountable, and fair AI development and deployment. Additionally, preserving privacy, ensuring data security, and upholding human rights emerged as non-negotiable principles. AI’s role should be one of positive transformation, promoting inclusivity while leaving no one behind.
Unlocking AI’s full potential in Africa necessitates collaboration among an array of stakeholders. Governments, regulatory bodies, academia, the private sector, and civil society must unite to facilitate knowledge sharing, pool resources, and leverage expertise. This collective effort will create a conducive environment for AI adoption and innovation.
NCC’s dedicated commitment to AI development
Under the leadership of Professor Danbatta, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to supporting AI technology development and deployment, both within Nigeria and across the African continent. Active steps are being taken to establish an enabling regulatory framework that encourages innovation while safeguarding consumer and citizen interests.
Furthermore, the NCC is actively collaborating with various stakeholders to establish AI research and development centers, incubation hubs, and startup ecosystems. These initiatives aim to nurture homegrown AI talent, fostering further innovation and widespread adoption.
Seizing the potential of AI
In concluding his address, Professor Danbatta emphasized the significance of the conference theme, “Artificial Intelligence and Africa.” This theme underscores the immense possibilities that AI holds for transforming African societies, driving economic growth, and enhancing the well-being of its people.
Africa’s future is intertwined with the promise of AI. Realizing this potential hinges on commitment, collaboration, and strategic investment. Africa has the capacity not only to catch up with global AI advancements but to lead in AI-driven innovation tailored to the continent’s unique challenges and opportunities.