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AU ministers adopt Continental AI strategy for digital transformation in Nigeria, others 

AU ministers

Story Highlights  

  • African Union ministers have endorsed a Continental Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy for digital transformation across Africa. 
  • The strategy aims to promote Africa’s AI capabilities and ensure inclusive development. 
  • This initiative aligns with AU Agenda 2063 and will be submitted for final adoption by the AU Executive Council in July 2024. 

African ICT and Communications Ministers of the African Union (AU) said they have unanimously endorsed a “Continental Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy” and “African Digital Compact” to accelerate “Africa’s digital transformation” by unlocking the potential of the new digital technologies in Nigeria and other African countries. 

This was disclosed in a statement published on AU’s official website on Monday, June 17, 2024. 

Over 130 African ministers and experts virtually convened between June 11 to 13, 2024 for the AU 2nd Extraordinary session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Communication and ICT. 

The meeting aimed at igniting digital transformation across the continent amidst rapid evolutions in the sector fueled by artificial intelligence (AI) technology and applications. 

Continental Strategy 

According to the statement, the Continental AI Strategy guides for African countries to harness artificial intelligence to meet the continent’s development aspirations and the well-being of its people. 

It seeks to promote AI’s ethical use, minimizing potential risks, leveraging opportunities and particularly canvassing for African content and context to be featured in the AI governance structures. 

“Identifying key priorities and actions to ensure that Africa fully benefits from the huge opportunities AI offers, the strategy calls for Africa-owned, people-centered, development-oriented, and inclusive approach to accelerate African countries’ AI capabilities in infrastructure, talent, datasets, innovation, and partnerships while also ensuring adequate safeguards and protection from threats. 

“The Strategy sets the roadmap for African countries to harness the potential of AI to achieve developmental aspirations to education and skills, health, agriculture, infrastructure, peace and security and good governance by developing human capital, strengthening research and innovation ecosystems, and building an AI-ready institutional and regulatory environment to ensure AI works for African people.” 

Africa’s success in the global AI arena 

At the ministerial session, the African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy,  Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid explained that in other to guarantee Africa’s success in the global AI arena, African countries should  invest in its youths, innovators, computer scientists, data experts, and AI researchers. 

The Commissioner commended the endorsement of the strategy, stating if followed by relevant stakeholders, Africa’s diversity would be captured in AI systems. 

“Adapting AI to African realities is critical. AI systems should be able to reflect our diversity, languages, culture, history, and geographical contexts. As we aim to create an inclusive AI ecosystem and a competitive African AI market that is adapted to our realities and meets our ambitions, we believe examining and approving this strategy will provide a common vision and path to accelerate responsible AI innovation and adoption in Africa”.   

“For us Africans, Artificial Intelligence presents tremendous opportunities. It is a driving force for positive transformational positive change as well as economic growth and social progress,” Dr. Abou-Zeid said as quoted in the statement. 

Lending his voice, the Minister of Information, Communications, Science Technology, and Innovation of the Kingdom of Lesotho, and Chair of the Bureau of the technical committee, Ms. Nthati Moorsi emphasised the huge opportunities that stem from the adoption of AI-enabled systems to promote homegrown solutions. 

The minister was of the view that the AI strategy would stimulate economic growth and sustainable development towards achieving the priorities outlined in the AU Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

What you should know 

 The meeting  is a follow-up on the AU’s call for developing countries to have increased representation and influence within global Artificial Intelligence(AI) governance structures. 

Nairametrics previously reported that the AU Mission to the United Nations (UN), had disclosed this during a Special meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a month ago. 

This endorsed strategy is expected to constitute Africa’s contribution to the Global Digital Compact and the United Nations Summit of the Future in September 2024.  

The committee will submit the strategy to the African Union Executive Council in July 2024, for consideration and final adoption in line with AU rules and regulations. 

The development is coming after a pan-African telecom company, MTN Group, and Huawei Technologies collaborated to build a technology innovation lab aimed at accelerating digital transformation and sustainable development across Africa. 

The Nigerian government is also looking forward to digital transformation across the nation 

Some months back, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, visited SecureID Limited state-of-the-art facilities, commending the firm’s role in Nigeria’s digital transformation. 

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