Digital Africa Conference: Danbatta Highlights Ways Africans Can Harness Benefits Of AI

Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta

Executive Vice Chairman/CEO Nigerian Communications Commission  Prof. Umar Danbatta has listed ways through which Nigeria and Africa can harness the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Speaking at the 11th edition of the Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition with the theme, “Artificial Intelligence and Africa,”, Danbatta stressed the need for African countries to invest in the necessary infrastructure, prioritise the teaching of digital skill and creating a pool of AI experts as well as the enforcement of a high standard of ethics.

He said: “In recent years, we have witnessed remarkable advancements in AI across various sectors, including healthcare, agriculture, finance, transportation, education, and even governance. AI-powered solutions have the potential to address some of Africa’s most pressing challenges, such as limited access to healthcare, food security, financial inclusion, and infrastructure development.

“However, for Africa to fully embrace the benefits of AI, we must address several critical factors. First, we must invest in building the necessary digital infrastructure. This includes expanding broadband connectivity.

“In Nigeria, as of July 2023, the broadband penetration stood at 47.01%. Also, the continent must commit to ensuring reliable power supply and fostering a conducive regulatory environment. Without robust infrastructure, the potential of AI will remain untapped, and the digital divide will further widen”.

“Secondly, we must prioritize digital skills development. AI technologies require a skilled workforce capable of developing, deploying, and maintaining these systems. We need to invest in education and training programs that equip our youth with the necessary skills to participate in the AI-driven economy. By nurturing a generation of AI experts, we can elevate Africa’s position in the global AI landscape and create job opportunities for our youth.

“Moreover, ethical considerations must underpin our approach to AI. As we deploy AI systems, we must ensure transparency, accountability, and fairness. We must guard against biases, protect privacy and data security, and uphold human rights. AI should be a force for good, promoting inclusivity and leaving no one behind”, he added.

Danbatta noted that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as one of the most transformative technologies in recent times with its potential to revolutionise industries, enhance productivity, and improve the quality of life for citizens cannot be overstated.

Speaking from his perspective as the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), he explained that AI will play a pivotal role in shaping Africa’s digital future, hence the need for collaboration and partnerships on the continent.

” We must foster collaboration among governments, regulatory bodies, academia, the private sector, and civil society. By working together, we can share knowledge, pool resources together, and leverage expertise to drive innovation and create an enabling environment for AI adoption.

“The Nigerian Communications Commission is fully committed to supporting the development and deployment of AI technologies in Nigeria and across the continent. We are working to create an enabling regulatory framework that promotes innovation while safeguarding the interests of consumers and citizens. We are also collaborating with stakeholders to establish AI research and development centres, incubation hubs, and startup ecosystems to nurture homegrown AI talent”, he stated.

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