Nigeria launches first multilingual LLM after drafting initial National AI Strategy

April 22, 2024
2 min read
  • The Nigerian government has announced the launch of its first multilingual large language model (LLM) as part of the Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy's Artificial Intelligence development efforts.  
  • According to Minister Bosun Tijani, who announced the launch on Friday, April 19 following the conclusion of a four-day AI workshop in Abuja, the launch is in collaboration with local AI firms: Nigerian AI firm Awarritech, global tech company DataDotOrg, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and the National Centre for AI and Robotics (NCAIR).
  • With this development, Nigeria hopes to capitalise on the thriving AI market. Statista predicts that the market will reach $0.89 billion in 2024, with a projected annual growth rate (CAGR 2024-2030) of 46.36%, resulting in a market value of $8.75 billion by 2030.

The minister added that after four days of collaborative work involving over 120 AI experts, Nigeria has drafted its initial National AI Strategy and announced significant advancements and partnerships for accelerating the country's AI development.

He also stated, "The LLM will be trained in five low-resource languages and accented English to ensure stronger language representation in existing data sets for developing artificial intelligence solutions. The project will also be supported by over 7,000 fellows from the 3MTT Nigeria program,”

Tijani revealed that the country's National AI Strategy has received $3.5 million in seed funding from potential partners to support this initiative. UNDP, UNESCO, Meta, Google, Microsoft, Luminate, Lagos Business School, Data Science Nigeria, NITDA, and other agencies affiliated with the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy are among those who have contributed to the funding.

This includes $1.5 million in direct funding, with an additional $2 million invested by 21st Century Technologies, a commercial data centre service provider, in the pilot programme.

Furthermore, Nigeria and the United States of America (USA) plan to collaborate to strengthen economic ties while ensuring the safe, secure, transparent, and trustworthy deployment of AI.

At the Workshop's closing ceremony, Arthur Brown, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy, announced that senior US government officials would gather in Abuja within two weeks for a conference organised by the US-Nigeria Bi-National Commission to capitalise on the workshop's momentum by hosting an AI conference in Lagos.

He expressed the United States' willingness to work with Nigeria as equal partners to promote several initiatives spanning talent development, infrastructure, research, and innovation.

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