By Aminat Akinyemi
As the year 2022 drew to a close, the world went crazy after a US-based AI company, OpenAI, released an innovative solution called “chatGPT” that could chat, reply to sent text messages by humans and answer almost any question with the same precision as if he were human himself and omniscient. This solution even proves to have the ability to write news articles, public speeches, academic papers, computer codes, and can go so far as to discuss matters related to their local traditional recipes.
Today, unlike a decade ago, countries are now fiercely competing to achieve AI supremacy.
This is not surprising as recent events have shown that AI, robotics, blockchain, and cybersecurity have a major impact on national security, intelligence, healthcare, and food security. With the rapid advances in technology, there is no doubt that the next decade presents an opportunity for countries to redefine their future, improve the quality of life, health care and the availability of jobs through the necessary training of their workforce. and the remodeling of their industries.
Departing from a long Nigerian tradition of simply waiting to import and consume whatever latest technology in the world rather than contribute to its development, the nation is lucky to have some leaders who are aware of global developments and are watching the coast. .
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For example, in 2019, a young Nigerian, Olusola Ayoola, after earning his PhD in the area of nuclear robotics and working extensively with the UK government, decided to return home to set up the world’s first fully functional robotics and artificial intelligence facility. of Nigeria for training, research and product development.
Since its establishment, RAIN has proven to be world-class and has even attracted international students and accolades from the United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) , the US and Canadian Missions in Nigeria, as well as First Bank of Nigeria Plc., Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Society of Nigerian Engineers (NSE), National Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ( NIEEE), the Federation Surveyor General’s Office, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the National Agency for Space Research and Development (NASRDA).
Some of the pioneering research carried out at RAIN includes unattended baggage detection, mini weather station, AI-based traffic light system, a ground robot vehicle and a VTOL unmanned aerial vehicle (IMORP), CETHED and RAINSC75/76.
What a great feat RAIN has achieved without any support from the government and this fact alone makes one want to wonder what an intervention grant will do for the growth of technology in Nigeria.
This must have been the thought of the Honorable Oluyemi Adewale Taiwo, a federal legislator representing Ibarapa Este/Ido Federal District, Oyo State, when in January 2022 and on the floor of the green chamber, the Honorable Oluyemi Taiwo filed a motion for the chamber to encourage the federal government to collaborate and work with RAIN, especially during the course of the fight against insecurity. The house unanimously adopted the motion and passed a resolution in support.
The Hon. Oluyemi Adewale Taiwo did not stop there. The pragmatic legislator followed this up with the ministry of science, technology and innovation until he successfully got the go-ahead from the ministry to provide such an intervention grant.
This is a confirmation of your administration to your electorate. However, the nation could use more of this kind that directs the federal government’s attention to booming areas within the economy that can help get this nation back on the path to greatness. No doubt, with this intervention grant, well managed by the tried and tested management of the Nigerian Robotics and Artificial Intelligence board, the nation can only hope to move forward from this point onwards.
RAIN Executive Director Dr Ayoola has confirmed that lofty plans are in place which include building a Center of Excellence in Drones and Unmanned Vehicles for Geospatial Intelligence, providing training scholarships for Nigerian youth, in particular those of Ibarapa East/ Ido Federal Circumscription, and the improvement of AI Robotics product prototypes up to the required military standards.
While Hon. Oluyemi Adewale Taiwo’s efforts are not common in this part of the world, they are not unexpected as he was basically doing what a genuine representative of the people would do to preserve indigenous tech companies in his constituency, promote their global advantage and protect the future of youth in such communities through upskilling.
Let it be known that when Nigeria becomes a great country, it is the sacrifices of genuinely honorable men like the Hon. Oluyemi Taiwo of the House of Representatives and his supporting colleagues in the National Assembly, the Honorable Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Senator Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora, as well as the permanent secretary of the ministry will be mentioned for praise. Now, let Nigeria’s global competitiveness in AI and robotics begin.