Navigating challenges, seizing opportunities: Expert insight on the adoption of AI in Nigeria

The integration of Artificial Intelligence within several industries in Nigeria holds significant potential for the Nigerian economy. It can be a valuable tool in addressing many of the country’s pressing challenges, and improving economic stability, governance, and technological innovation.

Given that the adoption of AI is relatively new to countries all over the world, it’s time to ask ourselves what proactive steps we must take to overcome the challenges AI might face being integrated into different sectors in Nigeria.

Let’s explore the benefits of the adoption of AI within the following sectors: health, agriculture, education, and finance.

In the health sector, AI has the potential to make health care much more accessible and affordable. The implementation of AI in healthcare systems can solve some of the pressing challenges faced by the Nigerian healthcare sector, including poor information systems, medical intelligence, and patient care.

One of the most significant benefits of AI in the Nigerian health sector is the potential for easy access to patient care in rural areas. Telemedicine platforms powered by AI can bridge the gap between patients and medical experts, especially those living in remote and underserved areas. These platforms provide virtual consultations and remote monitoring technologies, allowing patients to receive medical advice and prescriptions without having to leave their homes.

In the agricultural sector, AI can provide many improvements, such as tackling low productivity on the farm, inefficient resource use, and food insecurity. By integrating AI into agricultural practices, farmers can improve crop yields, optimise resource management, and improve their livelihoods.

Within the agricultural space, there are AI tools that can help farmers predict weather, test soil health, and control the spread of diseases on the farmland. There are a few Nigerian agri-tech startups that use AI-powered sensors to collect data on soil moisture, temperature, and nutrient levels. The data is analysed to provide farmers with actionable insights on when and how to irrigate and fertilise their crops. Integrating these solutions on a wider scale can help Nigeria to revolutionise the agricultural sector.

The education sector already benefits from the use of AI in different ways. With existing AI tools such as Chat GPT 3.5 and 4.0, Nigerian students are already leveraging AI for class assignments, research and contextualisation. These tools even go as far as helping students with disabilities improve their learning abilities. In this sector, learning and research has been seen to be much easier for both students and lecturers.

However, for the efficient adoption of AI in this sector, there has to be a collaboration between Universities, research agencies and institutions. These collaborations can bring together diverse expertise, resources, and funding necessary to advance AI research and implementation.

The financial sector is another sector in the Nigerian industry where AI can play a big part in improvement. The adoption of AI in finance will offer opportunities to create efficiency, improve customer experiences, and reduce financial error. Integrating AI in banking and Financial services yields multiple benefits including streamlining operations, mitigating risks, and providing innovative financial products. UBA’s Leo is an example of an AI chatbot that is used to improve customer experience.

AI will also create job openings and transform existing jobs, invariably boosting the nation’s economy. While it’s true that AI may automate certain tasks, it will also create new roles that require human skills and creativity. With AI making tasks simple for workers, certain data-driven works will no longer require large manpower and will complete jobs faster and more efficiently. This will free up human resources to focus on more complex and strategic tasks, leading to a more productive and innovative workforce.

However, if Nigeria is going to leverage AI, it must first produce a conducive ecosystem for it to thrive. For this to happen, both government and private organisations must come together to foster the integration of AI in Nigeria.

One of the major challenges affecting AI’s integration in the Nigerian sector is inadequate infrastructure. To maximise AI’s benefits, Nigeria will have to improve its existing infrastructure, both physical and digital. Internet accessibility is a key area in the development of AI and so far we have just a few regions that can boast of improved internet networks. Power supply is another example of hindrance to the adoption of AI in Nigeria. There would be a need to improve power supply in order for businesses to access AI.

Another consideration is the limited familiarity and knowledge gap with AI. Many business owners and government organisations are still sceptical about the adoption of AI in their business processes. To solve this problem the government and private sector can engage with leading experts within the field to decrypt the technology. While training and seminars can be organised to bridge the gap.

AI regulations and ethics are other limiting factors in the country’s AI adoption. The government will need to understand the appropriate regulatory framework for AI and implement these policies to ensure that personal human data is not misused by AI firms. It’s crucial to address concerns about data privacy and security in the context of AI adoption. This can be done through robust data protection laws and regulations, as well as by promoting ethical AI practices that prioritise the rights and welfare of individuals.

In conclusion, AI plays a key role in Nigeria’s future growth, as the world is increasingly dependent on technology. In order to avoid falling back in line and missing out on the opportunities that AI brings to the table, Nigeria must address the challenges that hinder the adoption of AI. All stakeholders, including the government, businesses, and educational institutions, must act fast so that the country can embrace AI’s transformative technology.