The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta has explained how the African continent can embrace the full benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in its quest to explore the digital economy.
In a keynote speech he delivered at the opening ceremony of the 11th edition of the Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition (DACE) in Abuja earlier this week, Prof. Danbatta noted that Africa must build the necessary digital infrastructure, including expanding broadband connectivity to fully benefit from Artificial Intelligence.
“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,” he said.
The former University lecturer also posited that the continent must commit to ensuring reliable power supply and fostering a conducive regulatory environment, insisting that without robust infrastructure, the potential of AI will remain untapped, and the digital divide will further widen.
“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,” Prof. Danbatta, who was represented at the event by the Head of Consumer Information and Education, NCC, Dr. Emilia Nwokolo emphasized.
He however argued that as the continent deploys 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.
“Collaboration and partnerships are also crucial in unlocking the potential of AI in Africa. 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,” he added.
He also assured that 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 assured.
In recent years, the world has 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.