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Nigeria’s NITDA partners Cisco to boost to AI, agritech

By , Nigeria correspondent
Nigeria , 17 May 2024
NITDA’s Kashifu Inuwa and Cisco’s Clayton Naidoo at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations. (Picture credit: NITDA’s Twitter account)
NITDA’s Kashifu Inuwa and Cisco’s Clayton Naidoo at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations. (Picture credit: NITDA’s Twitter account)

Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cisco.

The collaboration agreement is focused on AI and smart agriculture, and according to the two organisations, the partnership aims to unlock the value of digitalisation in Nigeria and drive an inclusive future.

The Federal Government said it will collaborate with Cisco, industry, and academia to accelerate the national digitisation agenda by implementing pilot projects in five key areas:

repurposing the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) to create an AI and cybersecurity experience and incubation centre;

  • establishing a broadband innovation centre;
  • setting up a smart agriculture demonstration farm;
  • designing and deploying technology learning hubs; and
  • incubating defence technology solutions.

This partnership aligns with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s priority areas of diversification through digitisation and innovation, strengthening national security, and agriculture for food security.

NITDA’s director general, Kashifu Inuwa, emphasised the connection between AI and cybersecurity and said this had led to the need for upgrading the NCAIR.

On the importance of broadband in digitisation and digital transformation, Inuwa said: “The establishment of an innovation hub will foster the development of affordable broadband solutions in Nigeria, encouraging local startups and companies to utilise advanced technology.”

He added: “We have a National Broadband Plan that aims to achieve 95% broadband coverage in Nigeria, and we need to be smart in the way we do things in order to achieve the target.”

According to Inuwa, the initiative on smart agriculture would help to improve food production and productivity in agriculture, noting that the use of Internet of Things (IoT), drones and other technologies would enhance productivity in agriculture.

He said: “As part of the presidential redefined priority areas of achieving food security in the country, the President has mandated the cultivation of 500,000 acres of land in the country and to achieve this successfully and efficiently, we need to use technology.”

Clayton Naidoo, Cisco’s country director, said the benefit of the agreement to Nigeria would be improved agricultural production and general economic upliftment.

“We want to leverage technology to bring the right level of economic opportunity to Nigeria that will contribute towards economic growth and job creation,” he said.

A foundation for the agreement is Cisco's Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) Programme, which is a global initiative that partners with governments and businesses to develop sustainable, secure, and inclusive communities powered by technology.

Naidoo said Cisco will partner with NCAIR to build an experience centre in the country, which will be designed to support organisations across Nigeria, building robust cybersecurity and AI architectures.

He said the company will also build a broadband innovation hub with Galaxy Backbone in partnership with NITDA. Cisco will also build an IoT use case around smart agriculture using agricultural bots and drone technology.

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