Executive Vice President, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has highlighted transformative power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its pivotal role in shaping Africa’s digital destiny.
Prof. Umar, who was represented by Dr. Emilia Nwokolo, Head of Consumer Information and Education, NCC, at the 11th Digital Africa Conference in Abuja, explored in-depth, the significance of AI in driving Africa’s digital future.
Speaking on the theme of this year’s event, “Artificial Intelligence and Africa,” Dr. Emilia Nwokolo underscored the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its capacity to revolutionize industries, enhance productivity, and improve the quality of life for citizens across Africa.
She highlighted several real-world examples of AI applications, including voice assistants, biometric recognition, and machine learning-based fraud detection.
Dr. Nwokolo noted that in recent years, have been remarkable AI advancements in various sectors, including healthcare, agriculture, finance, transportation, and education, offering solutions to pressing African challenges such as limited access to healthcare, food insecurity, financial issues, and deficit infrastructure.
However, to fully harness the benefits of AI, Africa must address several critical factors, according to Dr. Nwokolo. First, investments in digital infrastructure and broadband expansion are necessary to bridge the digital divide.
She mentioned that as of July 2023, Nigeria’s broadband penetration stood at 47.01%, highlighting the need for further expansion.
Digital skills development was also highlighted as a priority. Dr. Nwokolo stressed the importance of educating and training the youth to create a skilled workforce capable of developing and maintaining AI systems.
She argued that this would enhance Africa’s position in the global AI landscape and create job opportunities for its youth.
Furthermore, Dr. Nwokolo emphasized the ethical considerations surrounding AI deployment, advocating transparency, accountability, and fairness. She stressed the importance of guarding against biases, protecting privacy and data security, and upholding human rights.
Collaboration and partnerships were identified as key to unlocking AI’s potential in Africa. Dr. Nwokolo urged governments, regulatory bodies, academia, the private sector, and civil society to work together, sharing knowledge and resources to drive innovation and create a favorable environment for AI adoption.
Concluding her speech, Dr. Nwokolo reaffirmed the NCC’s commitment to supporting AI development and deployment in Nigeria and across the continent.
She mentioned the NCC’s efforts to establish an enabling regulatory framework, collaborate with stakeholders on AI research and development, and nurture homegrown AI talent.
In his written remarks, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, applauded the conference’s theme and called for seizing the opportunity to build an inclusive, sustainable, and AI-powered Africa.
The 11th Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition will continue until September 21, 2023, providing a platform for further discussions and collaborations on the future of AI in Africa.
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