Nigeria Spearheads AI Development with First Multilingual LLM

Nigeria Spearheads AI Development with First Multilingual LLM

Nigeria has made a significant stride in artificial intelligence (AI) by launching its first multilingual large language model (LLM), marking a pivotal moment in the country’s ambition to become a leader in AI within Africa.

The announcement came from Nigeria’s Communications Minister, Dr. Bosun Tijani, who detailed the breakthrough at the end of a productive four-day AI workshop in Abuja.

The LLM, a collaborative effort between local and global tech entities including Awarritech, DataDotOrg, and governmental agencies like the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the National Centre for AI and Robotics (NCAIR), aims to broaden AI applications across multiple Nigerian languages and accented English.

Dr. Tijani expressed the importance of this development, stating:

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

Strategic Partnerships to Boost AI Projects

The launch is part of broader efforts underlined by several strategic partnerships and initiatives aimed at accelerating AI development crucial to national interests. Among these, a significant partnership involves 21st Century Technologies and Galaxy Backbone, which will enhance the computational capabilities essential for local researchers and startups.

Dr. Tijani further noted that 21st Century Technology’s commitment includes funding the acquisition of GPUs to boost the processing power available to Nigeria’s AI projects. This enhancement will be housed within the GBB Data Centre in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), empowering a wide range of AI-driven endeavors.

NCAIR’s Role and National AI Strategy

In conjunction with the LLM launch, Dr. Tijani announced the relaunch of NCAIR, reiterating its mission to foster innovation in AI, robotics, UAVs, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The renewed focus on NCAIR underscores its vital role in steering Nigeria’s digital innovation across key sectors.

Funding and Future Prospects

The National AI Strategy, pivotal to these developments, has garnered $3.5 million in seed funding from both domestic and international partners, including prominent organizations like UNDP, UNESCO, Meta, and Microsoft. This funding underscores the global and local belief in Nigeria’s potential to advance AI technology, positioning it as a formidable player on the international stage.

As Nigeria takes bold steps with initiatives like the multilingual LLM, it not only enhances its technological landscape but also sets a precedent for AI development across Africa, promising a future where technology meets linguistic diversity to foster inclusive growth and innovation.

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