Artificial intelligence has become a general-purpose technology- Olubayo Adekanbi

Ejike Kanife
He revealed that over 20,000 young Nigerians had been trained on artificial intelligence across the country
Artificial intelligence has become a general-purpose technology- Olubayo Adekanbi

As the phenomenon called artificial intelligence (AI) continues to sweep the globe as one of the most important new technologies, there are those who believe the new technology should not be viewed as a specialized field but rather one that should be quickly tailored to suit every other area of endeavour. This is a position espoused by Olubayo Adekanbi, the CEO and co-founder of Data Science Nigeria (DSN).

Speaking at Microsoft AI for Non-Profit and Social Good, an event held at the Microsoft Office, Kings Tower in Lagos, Bayo said it is important that Nigeria and other African countries open up the technology for their workforce and other areas of business by embedding AI or data into every other economic activity people are doing.

Everybody will not become a data scientist or AI engineer. However, a fashion designer can apply artificial intelligence. Small businesses can apply the technology. That is another frontier that Microsoft is driving us towards. Empowering everyone in whatever field you are in, to apply AI. What that means is that more young people can still live their passion in whatever field they have chosen because AI has become a general-purpose technology that can be embedded. It is an amplifier and enabler, and that for us is one of the biggest narratives we need to tell,” he said.

See also: Data Science Nigeria launches first AI incubation lab, pivots From Non-profit to social company

Making reference to teachers in Benin, Edo state who are embracing artificial intelligence, he noted that these regular teachers have already been powered to use the technology to generate learning content.

Just a few weeks ago we had a major tech conference and we had over a thousand teachers in the state attend. And this has an indirect impact on the learners as well where students ability to comprehend difficult concepts have been enabled through the power of generative AI,” he said.

ChatGPT launches Android version in the US, Brazil and India
Microsoft and OpenAI

He revealed that over 20,000 young Nigerians had been trained across the country by Data Science Nigeria, with some landing roles in local and international organisations, and several of them engaged in various freelancing work. He noted that this kind of progress means more productivity, job creation, a better nation and shared prosperity for all.

Building capacity for rapid artificial intelligence adoption across Africa

Speaking on how the benefits of artificial intelligence could be rapidly replicated across the continent, the CEO expressed his belief that the starting point is capacity building.

We need African talents to solve African problems. We need to train them and skill them up, particularly because we have so many young people who are all out there. They just need the right guidance or to be redirected. So, through the support of Microsoft, we started a series of capacity building which are all-encompassing. All-encompassing because they are not just for those who are tech oriented, but also for those who are not in core tech. Those who want to use basic tools or what we call no code,” he said.

He pointed out that there is a broadband need for what artificial intelligence can offer all classes of people. Through the support of Microsoft, Data Science Nigeria has been able to design learning interventions for all classes of learners from executives who lead organisations and middle-level workers who apply the technology and data to make decisions, to specialized areas like teachers who are taught how to apply AI to content development, curriculum and personalized adaptive learning and people who are in communities and who need to be skilled up to build the skill they need to be able to attain the future they desire.

Breaking it down to the individual level, he pointed out that all over the country there are talents who are only seeking platforms like what Microsoft has provided for them to scale. He noted that Microsoft’s program involves two important aspects that will give them an edge. The first is that the tech giant gives them a platform where they can continuously practice their tech skills as if they were already working.

We want you to be job-ready so Microsoft provides the free credits which allows you to work as if you’re working with any global multinational. Look at any telco or any bank, the same way they engage any platform, that is what Microsoft did for these young ones. So even though they are not working, they have the experience which means they are ready for jobs,” he said.

The second aspect is giving them certification vouchers so that they can be certified which is very important in job prospecting.

Artificial intelligence has become a general-purpose technology- Olubayo Adekanbi
Ola Williams, Microsoft Nigeria Country Manager at the event

On her part, Microsoft Nigeria Country Manager, Ola Williams said that Africa and Nigeria are at an inflexion point where technology can help not just help in enhancing economic progress, but also impact people’s lives, businesses and society at large. The impact of artificial intelligence in Nigeria and Africa is already being felt but the focus should be on making that impact more far-reaching.

Within a short period, people are already seeing the impact of ChatGPT. How generative AI is transforming the way people do things and enabling creativity in different ways. It has helped reduce the amount of time spent on tasks. It is also making developers super productive as they can now solve problems faster. So also in the creative industry,” Ola said.

She said the potential for AI on the continent is enormous, with the market set to hit $1.5 trillion over the next few years. Thus, Africans need to groom a workforce of people who are knowledgeable and able to use AI in an inclusive and responsible manner. Only then can they take significant advantage of this potential and continue to build on it.

See also: Microsoft hires former OpenAI executives Sam Altman and Greg Brockman to lead advanced AI team

Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!

Register for Technext Coinference 2023, the Largest blockchain and DeFi Gathering in Africa.

Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!