The Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Garba Danbatta has said that lack of regular power supply may lead to Africa losing the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
He asked African continent to 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.”
Professor Danbatta spoke today, September 21, at the opening of the 11th edition of the digital Africa Conference and exhibition. He was represented by the Head, Consumer Information and Education, NCC, Dr. Emilia Nwokolo. The theme for this year’s event is “Artificial Intelligence and Africa.”
The NCC boss said that the Artificial Intelligence has emerged as one of the most transformative technologies of our time. Its potential to revolutionize industries, enhance productivity, and improve the quality of life for citizens cannot be overstated.
He believed that AI will play a pivotal role in shaping Africa’s digital future, saying that there are several examples of AI-powered software in use in daily lives, including voice assistants, face recognition for unlocking mobile phones, fingerprint biometrics, and machine learning-based financial fraud detection.
“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.
Professor Danbatta stressed the need for Africa to prioritize digital skills development.
According to him, 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.”
He suggested that the ethical considerations must underpin the approach to AI, saying: “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.
“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.”
The NCC boss stressed that the theme of this year’s conference; “Artificial Intelligence and Africa,” offered a glimpse into the immense possibilities that lie ahead.
He said that AI holds the power to transform the societies, drive economic growth and improve the well-being of the people. “Let us seize this opportunity and work together to build an inclusive, sustainable, and AI-powered Africa.”