BackpageNigerian Government Must Embrace Artificial Intelligence Now

Nigerian Government Must Embrace Artificial Intelligence Now


April 1, (THEWILL)- The thunder of artificial intelligence (AI) is reverberating across the globe as investors scramble for a stake in this transformative technology. Tech giants like Nvidia, Microsoft, Google, Apple and OpenAI are leading the charge with governments racing to craft regulations that harness AI’s potential while mitigating its risks.

Yet, amidst this global awakening, Nigeria slumbers. We stand on the precipice of a technological revolution yet seem content to remain bystanders. The country does not have a national AI policy. In my opinion, this is a recipe for disaster. The Internet age dawned, and we watched as others built empires in cyberspace. Can we afford to repeat history with AI? The answer must be a resounding no.

AI holds the key to unlocking Nigeria’s potential. Imagine precision agriculture, with AI-powered tools analysing soil conditions, predicting weather patterns, and optimising fertiliser use, leading to increased yields and food security. Envision a healthcare revolution, where AI can analyse medical scans, diagnose diseases with greater accuracy and personalise treatment plans, saving countless lives.


Picture enhanced security, with AI-driven surveillance deterring crime, while predictive analytics anticipate security threats. Efficient governance could become a reality, with AI streamlining government processes, identifying fraud and optimising resource allocation for improved service delivery. And in education, AI-powered tutors could personalise learning experiences, catering to individual student needs and fostering love for knowledge.

These are just a few examples. AI has the potential to transform every facet of Nigerian life – from the bustling streets of Lagos to the fertile fields of the north.

The cost of inaction is high. If Nigeria fails to embrace AI, we risk economic stagnation, as countries at the forefront of AI will enjoy a significant economic advantage. We will be left playing catch-up, struggling to compete in the global marketplace. Job displacement is another concern.

While AI will create new jobs, some existing ones will become obsolete. Without proper planning and training, millions of Nigerians could be left behind. Furthermore, the benefits of AI could exacerbate existing social inequalities. We must ensure equitable access to this technology and its benefits. Finally, as other nations develop advanced AI for military applications, Nigeria’s defence capabilities could be compromised, posing national security vulnerabilities.

The time to act is now. We need a comprehensive national AI strategy, one that encompasses revamping our curriculum at all levels — primary, secondary, and tertiary – to equip students with the skills necessary to thrive in an AI-powered world. It must involve investing in AI research institutions and fostering collaboration between academia and the private sector. Building the robust digital infrastructure needed to support AI applications is crucial. Developing clear and ethical guidelines for AI development and deployment, ensuring transparency, accountability and responsible use is also essential. Finally, educating the public about AI, its potential benefits and potential risks, should be a priority.

Experts have sounded the alarm that AI is a double-edged sword. While it holds immense potential, it also carries risks like job losses. We therefore need to reskill and upskill our workforce to adapt to the changing landscape. AI algorithms can perpetuate existing social biases. We must develop robust data collection and analysis practices to ensure fairness and inclusivity.

AI applications could raise concerns about data privacy and security. We need strong data protection laws to safeguard citizen information. The use of AI for autonomous weapons systems raises serious ethical concerns. We must also collaborate with others to advocate for international treaties banning such weapons.

The path forward requires a collective effort. We need policymakers, industry leaders, academics, and civil society to come together and forge a national AI strategy. It goes without saying therefore that open dialogue and collaboration are crucial.

Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past. Let us not be a nation of spectators while the world races towards the future. Let us embrace AI, not with fear, but with vision and determination.

Indeed, the integration of AI is not without its challenges. Nigeria faces obstacles such as inadequate public education, limited access to electricity, the digital divide and a brain drain of skilled professionals. Overcoming these hurdles will require a multifaceted approach, leveraging lessons from other jurisdictions and engaging all concerned regulatory bodies and stakeholders.

Crucially, Nigeria must prioritise ethical considerations in AI development, embedding principles of fairness, transparency and accountability into the design and deployment of AI systems. This will help mitigate negative societal impacts and ensure AI serves the interests of all citizens, not just a privileged few.

The road ahead will be long and arduous, but the potential rewards are immense. By investing in education, infrastructure and ethical frameworks, Nigeria can create an environment where AI innovation thrives, addressing pressing national challenges and propelling the country towards a prosperous future.

This is therefore a call to action for every Nigerian. Let us raise our voices, demand action and ensure that Nigeria takes its rightful place at the forefront of the AI revolution. Let us build a future where AI serves the needs of our people, propels us towards prosperity and positions us as a global leader in the new technological era.

The integration of AI into all aspects of Nigerian society is not just a matter of catching up; it is a strategic imperative for the nation’s future growth and development. By embracing AI, Nigeria can leapfrog over the challenges faced by other nations and position itself at the forefront of the global AI revolution. The benefits of AI are immense and Nigeria can reap these rewards by taking proactive steps to integrate AI into its economy and society. The future is knocking; let us open the door.

To Nigeria’s policymakers, legislators, government officials at every level and leaders across all sectors of society – the time to act on AI is now. We stand at a pivotal juncture, where the choices we make today will shape our nation’s future for decades to come. Complacency and inaction are no longer options. The world is charging ahead, propelled by the limitless possibilities of artificial intelligence. I must reiterate: should we fail to keep pace, we risk condemning Nigeria all over again to the sidelines of progress, a mere spectator as other nations reap the rewards of this technological revolution.

This is an urgent call to action, a clarion call that demands your unwavering commitment and visionary leadership. Set aside partisan differences, transcend bureaucratic inertia, and unite in a common mission to establish a comprehensive national AI strategy. Prioritise AI education at all levels, invest in cutting-edge research and development, build robust digital infrastructure, and craft ethical frameworks that safeguard our citizens while fostering innovation. Collaborate with academia, the private sector, and civil society to create an ecosystem where AI can thrive, addressing our unique challenges and propelling us towards a prosperous future. The time for hesitation has passed – the time for bold, decisive action is upon us. Let us seize this moment and ensure that Nigeria takes its rightful place at the forefront of the AI revolution.

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