The Honourable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Pantami has joined the world leaders in showcasing the most brilliant innovations in the 2023 Global Artificial Intelligence Summit.
The summit held at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia brought together policy makers, change makers philosophers and academics across the globe.
Speaking at the event, the minister who led a team of young Nigerian innovators to the world summit presented the grounds Nigeria has made through Artificial Intelligence, AI, in solving complex problems over the past three years.
This was contained in a one-to-one interview with Rudolph Lohmeyer.
While responding to questions on the success made in Nigeria on Artificial Intelligence, Pantami said, “Firstly, on the success story in Nigeria, going through the length of history, I can say the success story began around August, 2019 which is more than 3 years today. By then, when we crafted the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, NDEPS, for a Digital Nigeria.”
He added, “Pillar no. 7 of the policy, Digital Society and Emerging Technologies, AI falls under it. AI, 5G, IoT, Cloud computing, Autonomous vehicles, Nanotechnology, and Bio-technology, all of them fall under emerging technologies.
“After crafting that Policy, we immediately commenced its implementation, Part of the implementation of the policy was that we established what we called the National Centre for AI & Robotics, which is the world-class centre established by the Government of Nigeria.
“We brought all the World Class Facilities that are required including Personnel with expertise to manage the centre and also to monitor our younger ones, particularly to discover the talent we have in the country and see how effectively harness this talent to come up with solutions to our indigenous challenges and problems within our country.”
He stated further that “The AI & Robotics centre has been very successful so far, for example, only last week the centre concluded a form of training for our children usually from Primary and Secondary Level, we called it CACH THEM YOUNG meaning we challenged our children or young innovators starting from primary thinking of any complex problem from our society and to come up with a solution that will address that problem through AI.”
Pantami explained that “Over 800 participated and after the first training, one of my children came back home and he was telling me that he was working on how my smartphone will recognise his face as my own, and I asked him how can that happen? He said, you are my father and we shared so many things biologically, we need to come up with a solution where your son will be identified by your smartphone as you are the one.
“So, look at it with just starting the training, the child is now thinking outside the box on how to resolve a problem by leveraging on our biological relationship of a father and a son.”
He said at the end of the training, one of his children got the 2nd BEST PRIZE in the country after identifying a problem and a solution in AI.
“So, this is part of what we have started in Nigeria,” he said.
“Also, you will discover that children at the primary school level invented drones, not on paper, but rather physically. You can use the drone and primary school pupil invented it, why because children are more inclined to technology, they are digital natives, and they understand technology better than all of us,” the communication minister added.
The interviewer also enquired to know from the perspective of Nigeria, why it is important for Digital Cooperation Organisation (DCO), to reach this point and agreed on this cooperation.
The minister responded, “Let me begin by appreciating the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for organising GLOBAL ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENT (AI) SUMMIT 2023 and secondly for inviting us to be part of the event.
“Firstly, this declaration is more for action and is very dear to me, because in Nigeria particularly in the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, we value action and we are always impressed by action and not by strategy formulations. So because of this if you develop a strategy without Implementation, I cannot be intimidated by that, but what we admire most is when you kickstart the implementation. For this reason, I admitted declaration for action.
“Secondly, if you look at the 7 Pillars of Digital Corporation Organisation on this initiative of AI, you will discover that they are in total alignment with the 8 pillars (development regulations, digital literacy, skill development, solid infrastructure, service infrastructure, soft infrastructure, digital societies and emerging technologies and indigenous development content) of National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria.
“So, the Pillars of Digital Corporation Organisation (DCO) are in total alignment with our 8 pillars of National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS).
“Thirdly, It means a lot to us, because I strongly believe that the Digital Economy or Emerging Technologies cannot be implemented in a silo, today the advancement of technology particularly in the 4th Industrial Revolution, in most cases, the border is no more respected and there is no institution or country that has the monopoly of wisdom or knowledge, but the more we partner the more we become successful. This is in summary why this declaration means a lot to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Reacting to Pantami’s response, Lohmeyer said, “We are going to return to this question ‘multilateral collaboration’ as you say, there is no domain of human endeavour where multilateral collaboration has a more clear business case because of the crucial aggregation data from the diverse resources as the common sense as the field of AI.”