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NITDA DG commits to supporting Startups in AI Research

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As part of efforts in implementing the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s (GCFR) Renewed Hope Agenda of accelerating diversification through industrialisation and digitisation, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa CCIE has pledged the government’s continued commitment to supporting starting startups in the country with necessary resources and initiatives in advancing the research of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the country.

Inuwa made this known at the Innovate Nigeria 2024 Conference & Expo which was held at the Landmark Event Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos where he gave a thought-provoking keynote address on the role of government in advancing AI research and its implications for Nigeria’s economic future.

The DG who was represented by the Agency’s Director, Corporate Planning and Strategy Department, Dr Aristotle Onumo expressed gratitude to Nova Tech for organising and hosting the conference while emphasising its timely nature amidst the rapid acceleration of AI’s transformative potential globally.

“There could not have been any better time to hold such a conference than now when the rapid acceleration of Artificial Intelligence presents an intriguing paradox, as its seemingly limitless potential promises to revolutionise every facet of life”, he said.

Addressing the perspectives of government involvement in AI research, Inuwa began by citing global trends where governments including the US and China have allocated significant funds for AI research through their recognition of its innovation drive and economic growth potential.

He underscored the positive correlation between government investment and advancements in AI, highlighting its projected market value surpassing $190 billion by 2025.

While speaking on the Nigerian government’s contributions to AI research, Inuwa outlined key initiatives which include direct investment in research and development, establishment of collaborative ecosystems, formulation of policies and regulations, fostering international collaboration and supporting education and workforce development.

He emphatically stated that these contributions directly align with the government’s 8-point agenda, particularly emphasising the importance of creating an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive.

“It may interest the audience to note that the 8-point agenda of the present administration aptly captures the requirements of the government in terms of what needs to be done”.

“The 7th agenda which is Accelerating Diversification through Industrialisation, Digitisation, Creative Arts, Manufacturing and Innovation resonates with the specific role of government in AI research upon which democratisation of digital service to create more economic value anchors”, he mentioned.

Inuwa further elucidated on NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan which aims to elevate the country’s AI research ranking and foster digital literacy and talent development.

While emphasising the need for collaboration and partnership frameworks to fund research as well as the government’s efforts in nurturing a vibrant innovation ecosystem, he said that the Agency’s subsidiary, the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics is open 24 hours a day to guide, nurture and support startups through the journey of conceptualising their ideas all through to the level of impact and commercialisation.

Conclusively, Inuwa reiterated the transformative potential of AI in driving economic prosperity and emphasised the importance of collaboration between the government and the ecosystem towards exploring new frontiers of knowledge.

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