NITDA Plans Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Robotics

Kashifu Abdullahi, NITDA's Director General

In an effort to achieve a robust digital economy, the National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) is set to establish a Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Nigeria (CFAIR). The DG NITDA, Kashifu Abdullahi, said the proposed state-of-the-art facility is for emerging technologies in the areas of networking, research development, information, and communication security The NITDA boss made the disclosure while receiving Vice-Chancellor, Nile University Abuja, Professor Osman Nuri Aras and Vice-Chancellor, Sule Lamido University, Dutse, Lawal Sani Taura, on separate visits to the headquarters of the agency in Abuja. He said, “We need to look at the educational sector and focus more on skills and research that can be used to develop the economy. People should not see education as the end but means to the end. We need to look for ways to disabuse people’s mind on paper qualification and inculcate in them those skills required for the imminent industrial revolution and also focus more on science and technology.” While citing some scholarly research from Microsoft, Mr Abdullahi noted that according to the research, by 2030, 800 million jobs would be lost unless people up-skill and re-skill and 149 million new jobs would be created through Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies. Mr Abdullahi stated that the agency offers scholarships in areas that have direct impacts on the industry. He said: “It is important to strengthen the existing relationship with the higher institutions in the country so that there can be custom made courses to prepare us for future work. Our focus is not to just have an MSc or PhD but to add value to the industry. We must prepare Nigerians especially students for the fourth industrial revolution. “COVID 19 is fast-forwarding the industrial revolution, it has become imperative to increase our level of preparedness and develop capacity in emerging technology. Embedding relevant skills will better prepare the workforce to actively participate in the fourth industrial revolution.” While commending Nigerian institutions that are gradually transiting from physical learning to virtual learning due to the lockdown, he encouraged other higher institutions to adopt the method of virtual education. In his remarks, Osman Nuri Aras of Nile University said that his institution is prepared to work with NITDA to ensure it produces students that are future proof as it has a speciality in machine learning, where 85% of its Msc and PhD computer science students have their specialities in machinery and Artificial Intelligence. Also in his remarks, Lawal Sani Taura of Sule Lamidi University noted the partnership of NITDA with the Jigawa state government on digital transformation and smart initiatives. He, therefore, commended the agency for its interventions in capacity building programmes, especially on ICT.

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