As the world is getting ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which would be driven by Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Robotics, cybersecurity, virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, big data analysis, cloud computing etc. 4IR fuelled by Big Data, propelled by robust computing capacity, advanced software and Artificial Intelligence is ushering new ways of living, well-being, learning, travelling and working. Its innovative use-cases are quickly changing lives for the better and creating new types of jobs.

According to Price water house Coopers (PwC), Artificial Intelligence will have huge impact on healthcare, automotive, financial services, retail and consumer, technology, communications and entertainment, manufacturing, energy, transport and logistics.These all translate into a significant global economic impact as cited by several sources, and Nigeria must not be left out.

In his speech at the commissioning of the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Abuja, the minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami talked about the centre seeking to position the country for the 4IR that dwells on emerging technologies.

He explained that the establishment of the centre was in line with the eight pillars of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) of the Federal Government, saying the centre is related to the seventh pillar of NDEPS, which is on digital society and emerging technologies.

Other pillars that reflect the vision of the centre, according to him, are the third, fifth and eighth which focused on solid infrastructure, digital services development and promotion, indigenous content development and adoption respectively.

He also said there were already existing regulations such as the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation, the National Broadband Plan, the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy, among others to drive the activities of the centre.

Pantami said the centre would serve as a leading hub of innovation, research and development, knowledge transfer, and training in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and other emerging technologies.

“This centre will also serve the purpose of creating a vision for Artificial Intelligence in the country, identifying Artificial Intelligence-driven use-cases; support data stewardship and develop an Artificial Intelligence ecosystem, among others.

“Artificial Intelligence is the refinery of the digital economy and Robotics is very useful in supporting companies as they carry out repetitive tasks.

“These are two very important emerging technologies that will shape the face of future technologies and we have decided to be proactive to enable us to play a key role in how these technologies evolve,” he added.

The minister said the centre is equipped with a digital innovation laboratory, maker space and fabrication laboratory, printed circuit board facilities, 3-D printer, co-working space for ICT start-ups and training facilities.

He further said the centre would house the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (MIT-REAP) office set to translate research insights into practical frameworks.

The USA-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a cutting-edge institute globally renowned for science and technology feats.

Pantami also expressed the hope that the centre would engage Nigerian youths, support economic diversification, create jobs and inspire digital entrepreneurship.

Earlier in his remarks, the director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Kashifu Inuwa, described Artificial Intelligence as the ability of machines to mimic human thinking and behaviour which could be applied to the project of developing systems with human characteristics.

He also defined robotics as the engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and operation of robots, which complements human labour, even as he urged stakeholders to put the facility to optimum use to project the gains of AI and robotics in the Nigerian technological space.

In his remarks, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Musa Bello, commended the transformation of the ICT sector by Pantami, adding he (Pantami) was laying the foundation for digital growth of the country. He noted that the centre is the first of its kind of o be owned by government and it opens up a space, pointing out that it opens for the wider development of other sectors of the society.



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