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Nigeria launches first multilingual AI model and secures funding for national AI Strategy

The Nigerian government has made a significant stride in its Artificial Intelligence (AI) development efforts with the launch of its first multilingual large language model (LLM).

According to Minister Bosun Tijani, who announced the launch on Friday, April 19 following the conclusion of a four-day AI workshop in Abuja, the launch is in collaboration with local AI firms: Nigerian AI firm Awarritech, global tech company DataDotOrg, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and the National Centre for AI and Robotics (NCAIR).

With this development, Nigeria hopes to capitalise on the thriving AI market. Statista predicts that the market will reach $0.89 billion in 2024, with a projected annual growth rate (CAGR 2024-2030) of 46.36%, resulting in a market value of $8.75 billion by 2030.

Minister Tijani highlighted the importance of the LLM being trained in five low-resource languages and accented English to ensure stronger language representation in AI solutions.

"The LLM will be trained in five low-resource languages and accented English to ensure stronger language representation in existing data sets for developing artificial intelligence solutions," Minister Tijani stated.

Moreover, the country's National AI Strategy, crafted after a rigorous four-day workshop with over 120 AI experts, secured $3.5 million in seed funding from potential partners. The Minister emphasized the significance of this funding, saying, "The country's National AI Strategy has received $3.5 million in seed funding from potential partners to support this initiative."

At the Workshop's closing ceremony, Arthur Brown, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy, announced that senior US government officials would gather in Abuja within two weeks for a conference organised by the US-Nigeria Bi-National Commission to capitalise on the workshop's momentum by hosting an AI conference in Lagos.

"We are willing to work with Nigeria as equal partners to promote several initiatives spanning talent development, infrastructure, research, and innovation," Arthur Brown stated.

With these strategic initiatives and partnerships in place, Nigeria is poised to make significant strides in AI development, further cementing its position in the global tech landscape.

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