The Nigerian Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, has announced that the government plans to provide 5 million naira ($6,444) in funding to 45 startups and researchers focused on artificial intelligence (AI). This initiative is part of the Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme, which aims to promote the widespread use of AI for economic development.
The minister revealed this information in a post on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), highlighting the government’s commitment to driving economic advancement through AI. The scheme’s official website outlines several focus areas for the grants, including agriculture, education and workforce, finance, governance, healthcare, utility, and sustainability. To be eligible for funding, applicants must form a consortium consisting of a startup or tech company and a researcher from a Nigerian university or a foreign researcher.
Applicants are required to submit a research proposal aligned with the Ministry’s AI focus areas and demonstrate the potential economic impact in Nigeria. They should also have a proven track record of excellence in research or entrepreneurship and commit to publishing at least one peer-reviewed article within one year of receiving the grant.
To further underline the government’s commitment to AI development, the Nigerian government previously invited scientists of Nigerian heritage and renowned experts who have worked within the Nigerian market to collaborate in formulating the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy. This move signals the government’s recognition of the value and potential of AI in driving economic growth and prosperity.
The application period for the Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme started on October 13, 2023, and will conclude on November 15, 2023. The ministry has stated that a panel of AI specialists will assess the submitted proposals and select the successful recipients.
The funding provided by the government aims to support and accelerate the growth of AI-focused startups and researchers in Nigeria. By investing in AI, the government hopes to foster innovation, create job opportunities, and enhance economic development in various sectors, including agriculture, education, finance, healthcare, governance, utility, and sustainability. Nigeria recognizes the transformative power of AI and its potential to bring about significant advancements across industries.
With this funding initiative, the Nigerian government is not only encouraging the development of AI technology but also promoting collaboration between startups, researchers, and universities. By fostering partnerships and knowledge exchange, the government aims to create a thriving ecosystem of AI innovation and contribute to Nigeria’s overall economic progress.
Overall, the Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme represents a significant step towards harnessing the potential of AI for economic prosperity. The government’s funding and support will enable AI startups and researchers to explore further opportunities, drive innovation, and contribute to Nigeria’s growing presence in the global AI landscape. By investing in AI, Nigeria is positioning itself as a leader in the adoption and deployment of emerging technologies, with a focus on maximizing the potential benefits for its citizens and economy.