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NITDA Spearheads Global Recognition Through AI Integration in Nigeria's Payments Landscape

In a dynamic move towards global acclaim and the enhancement of Nigeria's Payments System, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), underscores the critical need for collaboration. This collaboration, he emphasizes, is essential between NITDA, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and financial institutions.

Speaking exclusively to Cointelegraph during the CBN's 2023 Payments System Management Departmental Retreat program, Inuwa advocates for a strategic alliance to harness the potential of emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics, to revolutionize digital payments.

Inuwa highlights the transformative impact of financial technology (fintech) on Nigeria's performance across industries, including environmental, social, and governance sectors. He attributes this success to a developmental regulation approach and enabling policies co-created by the tech ecosystem.

The NITDA chief stresses the importance of proactive measures to unlock the benefits of AI while mitigating potential threats. He asserts that NITDA is committed to collaborative efforts with the CBN and other stakeholders to regulate the AI space effectively. Inuwa believes that if the CBN adopts a specific technology, the agility to implement changes swiftly is significantly heightened.

When questioned about Nigeria's approach to the opportunities and challenges posed by AI, Inuwa reveals that the federal government has been attentive to the evolving landscape. He discloses that an artificial intelligence policy, initiated during the previous administration, is in the works and will soon be unveiled to the public.

This AI policy aims to establish a robust foundation for formulating rules. NITDA, entrusted with implementation, will engage in discussions on strategies, frameworks, and guidelines for the responsible adoption and deployment of artificial intelligence. Inuwa acknowledges the dual nature of AI, describing it as a double-edged sword with tangible benefits but not without considerable threats and biases. Nevertheless, he assures that the regulatory approach prioritizes fostering innovation rather than stifling it.

In addition to the AI policy, Inuwa highlights various startup ecosystem-friendly initiatives by the federal government for the industry. Notably, Nigeria's Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, recently unveiled the 3 Million Technical Talent (3MTT) program. This groundbreaking initiative aims to provide over 1 million applicants with the opportunity to pursue an introductory AI course.

As Nigeria positions itself at the forefront of AI integration in payments, the collaborative efforts of NITDA, the CBN, and the broader financial sector are set to drive innovation, foster a conducive regulatory environment, and propel the nation to global recognition in the realm of digital payments.

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