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Is Nigeria Ready For Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) projects and adoptions are sweeping the world like wildfire and are one of the most disrup­tive technologies to watch out for in 2024 and beyond.

This technology, known as Artificial Intelligence (AI), usually empowers machines to demonstrate cognitive abili­ties similar to that of humans, including problem-solving, reasoning, predictions and learning.

Simply put, Artificial Intel­ligence (AI) is the imitation of human acumen in machines. This technology is gaining more prominence in many parts of the world and will intensify more in 2024.

In my view, and considering the impact AI has had on living and livelihoods, it is believed that AI has enormous potential to transform various sectors in Africa, be it in business, con­sumer experience, education, agriculture, health, governance, or finance.

It has the potential to change the way companies operate fun­damentally, it will continue to drive innovation, and if applied reasonably, it has the potential to improve the lives of millions across Africa.

Yet, the implementation of AI in Africa is still in its infant phase, as most of its applica­tions are pilot or experimental. Even though in Africa, finan­cial services, agriculture, and healthcare are all sectors that could utilize AI.

AI is currently being imple­mented sparingly for instance in the financial services sector to facilitate financial inclusion, and customer service improve­ments.

One tendency that AI possess­es is the ability to increase un­employment due to its adoption in routine and predictable daily operations.

But, the potential of AI in Africa, particularly in solv­ing social and environmental problems such as poverty, hunger, healthcare, education, language technologies, water supply, clean energy forecasting, climate change predictions, and security are unlimited.

In fact, Africa could be transformed with the power of AI applications to change how businesses operate, facilitate more innovation, and improve the lives of millions across the continent.

This could lead to improved well-being, quality of life, and business resilience, which could be addressed by some AI business solutions. But the big question is, are Africans and African leaders ready?

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With artificial intelligence, small businesses can help foster innovation and social entrepre­neurship that could help curb some of the agelong challeng­es in Africa and improve job creation in another realm. With a growing population of over 1.4 billion people and with 70% un­der the age of 30, the continent is ripe for these AI investments.

According to records, African population is expected to grow by 1.76% by 2050, reaching ap­proximately 2.5 billion from 1.36 billion in 2020.

This means that adequate attention must be given to the young and growing population because the young folk on the continent are a crucial resource that presents opportunities for economic growth and competi­tive, but innovative ideas.

The young people should be the workforce ready to take on the technological revolution and drive AI progress in Africa.

Still, they need to be incentiv­ized and prepared for a forefront role in the technological revolu­tion if Africa is proactive.

But the current bane to this is the insufficient investment in research and development, the general lack of institutional capacity and huge skill gaps amongst these youths.

So, African leaders must show unwavering commitment to the Artificial Intelligence agenda by focusing on research, funding, building capacity and skills, and engaging in long-term partnerships world over.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to impact almost every industry on the continent, and for example, with agriculture and produc­tion, AI models could be used to optimize yields and production value chain.

In the area of food insecurity, the use of AI applications can help identify or predict crop and animal diseases and forestall disasters.

Therefore, agriculture is a strategic sector that needs im­provement across Africa, and AI should be a critical part of the solution to achieve sustainabil­ity. In the banking and financial sectors, AI could help automate and predict more customer transactions in the commercial banking and capital market space and so on.

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Though records show that Af­rica missed the first, second and third industrial revolutions’ significant participation, the continent should be determined not to miss the fourth and fifth. So Africa cannot sit back and wait.

The time to be proactive is now. Because the adoption of AI and associated technologies in Africa may have the capacity to influence the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) significantly, AI can have a vital impact on tackling Africa’s most urgent issues.

So from Kenya to Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, and South Africa, the governments and business leaders need to set up think tank team in providing actionable recommendations, evidence-based insights on the AI education, collaborations, independentngr

and practical solutions for robost AI development in Africa including high -quality data availability which is key for the successful

AI adoption. Improving the innovation ecosystems, and setting up policy frameworks that can enable AI development adoption and quick implementa­tion in many sectors and indus­try are some of the delivarables of the think thank team.

In conclusion, due to the paucity of comprehensive AI regulations and policies across Africa, cyber security challeng­es are central concerns.

Therefore, since the existing laws and legislations cannot regulate AI operations ade­quately, and the regulatory framework to set the rules of engagement is still limited then to protect the social fabric, norms and safety of people and avoid unintended consequences, African governments should think ahead and formulate reg­ulations and legal frameworks to guide the usage of AI.

The role of governments in nurturing a conducive envi­ronment for AI technological adoption is key and non-govern­mental organizations with other stakeholders need to assist as well by considering investments in AI infrastructure. Good luck

Source: independent

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