The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami today, Friday 13th November 2020, commissioned the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Abuja.
The project, he said, is line with the Digital Skills acquisition drive as entrenched in the National Economic Development Policy and Strategy (NEDPS).
The National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria, was initiated and championed by Dr Pantami and implemented by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in line with its mandate.
In his address, Dr Pantami who served as the Chief Host and Special Guest of Honour, recalled that the journey to digitalise Nigeria began with the President’s approval to include the Digital Economy mandate under the Ministry’s purview. This, he noted, necessitated the birth of a Policy document (NEDPS) which has become the foundation for implementing the Digital Nigeria Agenda.
“The global paradigm shift from mere paper qualifications to proven skills, particularly digital skills, has necessitated the establishment of a high tech skill acquisition centre such as this. The Centre will serve as a leading hub of innovation, research and development, knowledge transfer and training in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and other emerging technologies. In addition, the Centre will also create a vision for AI, develop an AI Ecosystem, support data stewardship while providing access to specialized technical skills in the country”.
Pantami emphasized that the Centre will provide a robust platform for achieving a digital economy for Nigeria through digital literacy and skills development and innovation.
The Minister expressed confidence that the Centre will productively engage the youths, create more jobs and inspire digital entrepreneurship. He commended the Director General NITDA and his team for bringing the vision to life and urged them to do more.
Chairman of the Ceremony, Minister for FCT, Mallam Mohammad Musa Bello, commended Dr Pantami for his unprecedented strides in the sector. He disclosed that the remarkable achievements in the sector have impacted on not just the sector, but the nation’s economy as a whole citing the steady rise in the sector’s contribution to the Nation’s GDP.
In his welcome address, the DG NITDA, Host of the event while appreciating the Honourable Minister for his exempery leadership and mentorship challenged the youths to take advantage of the initiatives and strateges deployed by government particularly in the digital economy sector to empower themselves so as to take their place on the global stage.
He further disclosed that under the supervision of Dr Pantami, the Agency has continued to proactively facilitate the development of Nigeria into a sustainable digital economy in line with its mandate and the provisions of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria.
The Centre which is a first of its kind, public sector driven facility, is fully equipped with training facilities, 3D Printers, co-working space for start-ups, a digital innovation laboratory, Makerspace and fabrication laboratory infrastructure, printed circuit board facilities and houses the offices of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT – REAP) and the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) NITDA’s subsidiary arm for Innovation.
Dignitaries at the event included the Minister for FCT, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello who chaired the event, the Honourable Minister of State for Science and Technology Barrister Mohammed Bello, the Executive Secretary Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) Mallam Mohammed Bobboi, Chief Executive Officers of the parastatls and Agencies under the Ministry’s purview, captains of industry, high level public officials and stakeholders.