AFIGF 2023: NCC Boss Advocates for AI Integration in Africa To Boost Digital Economy

AFIGF 2023: NCC Boss Advocates for AI Integration in Africa To Boost Digital Economy

  • Nigeria and Africa have been urged to harness the positive benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to digital economic growth
  • This appeal was made during the week of the 2023 Africa Internet Governance Forum (AFIGF) held in Abuja, Nigeria
  • Some stakeholders urged the national government to improve electricity to boost access to digital infrastructures in underserved communities

FCT, Abuja - Over the week, digital communications experts and stakeholders gathered in Abuja for the 2023 Africa Internet Governance Forum (AFIGF).

The event this year was themed “Artificial Intelligence and Africa.”

Stakeholders of the AFIGF 2023 during a press briefing with journalists at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, on Wednesday, September 20. Photo Credit: NCC
Source: Original

Speaking at the event, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said there is a need for Africa to harness the benefits of Artificial intelligence (AI).

He said it is essential for Nigeria and the entire continent of Africa to transition into a new age of building refined digital economic growth.

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Danbatta said:

“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.”

He urged that Nigeria and Africa must invest heavily in building state-of-the-art digital infrastructures to help actualise the goals of a new-age digital environment.

While speaking to journalists in a press conference, the NCC boss said there is already an initiative of a digital financial inclusion strategy of the government that helps integrate and support tech-driven talents and prospects financially.

He revealed that the digital financial index in Nigeria had risen to 70 per cent of what it used to be back when it started.

Danbatta also disclosed that the commission, in partnership with the government and other stakeholders, has developed several initiatives driving the national innovation system.

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Digital economy, AI integration pointless without electricity – Hon George

Speaking with, when asked how the power sector in Africa can be improved to sustain digital integration in Africa, Hon. Samuel Nartey George of the Ghanaian parliament said the national government must begin to prioritise power.

He stated that power is a critical part of any economic sector and would do better with the gains in the digital economy.

Hon George said:

“National government has to begin to look at power as a critical part of bridging the accessibility divide between underserved and unserved communities.”

The parliamentarian stated that providing digital infrastructure and internet facilities to these vulnerable areas without electricity is futility.

He also noted that accessibility to these digital infrastructures must be looked at from the point of affordability.

He said:

“Most times, the government look at the spending power of their central cities and uses that to assume the cost of spending power of residents of rural communities.

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“What we in the city centre will spend in a week on the internet is a monthly food cost for a family in the rural areas.”

Nigeria ranked 7th on global mobile phone usage amid high data costs

In another development, Nigeria is now ranked 7th in global mobile phone usage and 11th for internet spread.

Nigeria accounts for 82% of all telecom customers and 29% of all internet usage in Africa.

The NCC, therefore, calls for more investments and collaboration to enable Nigeria to harness the potential of emerging technologies.


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