The fascinating global development on AI and blockchain demands that Nigeria articulates a roadmap on how we could plot a future on these technologies. We have done a similar thing in the past, on microelectronics, even though we did not follow through. I am confident this time may be different since the ecosystem has improved since Nigeria conceived the National Vision 2020. I wrote the nation’s Vision 2020 Microelectronics thematic area; it was my first national assignment for Nigeria.
It was many years ago when I received an email while a graduate student in the Johns Hopkins University to help in developing the microelectronics thematic area of Nigeria’s National Vision 2020. I developed the roadmap which was later ratified by NASENI and other government agencies.
I proposed a model which U.S., Canada, Europe, Brazil and China had followed to develop their respective microelectronics sectors: build a multi-foundry system which could be shared by all players, universities and small companies with strong SME and university elements. My premise was that no company could really afford the capital investment for the critical microelectronics infrastructures. So, Nigeria has to look at MOSIS (USA), EMC (Canada) and Europractice (Europe) as models if it wants to architect an electronics development future. Some of those ideas were further deepened in my book which later received IGI Global book of the year award.
Rwanda invited me and we also proposed a similar model, not on electronics but on the broad ICT hardware sub-sector. They are running on it, till today. Nigeria never followed on the roadmap. The vision of Rwanda to have internet connectivity even in areas with no human habitation is geared to drive an era of IoT which will be critical in redesigning its economy. With its strategy, agriculture, transportation and other key sectors would benefit.
Prof Michael Adikwu, the current Vice Chancellor of University of Abuja, later invited me to join the International Board of the $200 million World Bank STEPB project. He had liked the visioning process I had articulated in the Vision 2020.
Today, I do think Nigeria is at it again. But this time, it is AI and blockchain for Nigeria. But we do not need government as core driver because the (inception) cost here is not as huge as microelectronics. We only need government to help harmonize certain elements. Largely, Nigeria desperately needs an AI and Blockchain Roadmap to ensure we can enjoy synergies across our sectors.
The goal for this roadmap would be to examine how Nigeria could advance and deploy distributed ledger and AI for the development of the nation, across many industrial sectors. It would be locally-flavored focusing on areas where these technologies could help the nation. Kenya has a similar plan. They see applications in education, land registration, transportation, healthcare and more.
A distributed ledger is a database that is simultaneously shared among many computers making it nearly impossible to erase stored records. Blockchain is the best known type of distributed ledger technology and it, in turn, is famous for being the technology that underpins Bitcoin, a virtual currency.
However, blockchain has applications beyond this and is being trialled across the world for supply chain management, storing government data and even developing secure voting systems.
Always remember that we are not talking about cryptocurrency which continues its gyrations. Here, the focus is building enablers for the future of Nigerian economy. This roadmap will also resolve if Nigeria would need to have a digital version of the Naira, under the control of the Central Bank.
Bitcoin plunged. South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinrail announced on Twitter it faced a “cyber intrusion,” causing it to lose an estimated $40 million in altcoins. Bitcoin subsequently fell over 10%, while the total crypto market lost an estimated $45 billion in value as other cryptocurrencies tumbled as well.
I am hoping Nigeria will do this. We need an AI & Blockchain Roadmap for our nation as these technologies evolve with their disruptive capabilities.