NITDA, CISCO Sign MoU On AI, Smart Agriculture, Others

NITDA, CISCO Sign MoU On AI, Smart Agriculture, Others

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L-R: The director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, Malam Kashifu Abdullahi and Cisco’s country director, Mr. Clayton Naidoo signing the memorandum of understanding at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja.

The National Information Technology Development Agency has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Cisco Systems Incorporated to advance Nigeria’s digital transformation.

Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) Programme partners with government and private sector leaders to develop sustainable, secure and inclusive communities powered by ethical and innovative technology solutions.

The partnership aims to unlock the value of digitalisation in Nigeria and drive an inclusive future. The Federal Government will collaborate with Cisco, industry, and academia to accelerate the national digitisation agenda by implementing pilot projects in five key areas: Repurposing NCAIR to create an AI and cybersecurity experience and incubation centre, establishing a broadband innovation centre, setting up a smart agriculture demo farm, designing and deploying technology learning hubs and incubating defense technology solutions.

This partnership aligns with President Bola Tinubu’s priority areas of accelerating diversification through digitisation and innovation, strengthening national security for peace and prosperity and boosting agriculture to achieve food security.

Speaking during the signing of the MoU at the NITDA headquarters, Abuja, the director-general, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi maintained that AI and cybersecurity go hand in hand, making it imperative to upgrade the NCAIR to a world-class AI Lab. “As we develop AI, we also need to design it with security in mind,” said Abdullahi.

On the second initiative, the NITDA boss noted that broadband is the backbone of digitisation and digital transformation, providing the connectivity needed for transformation. The establishment of the innovation hub would encourage local startups and companies to come up with affordable broadband solutions in Nigeria using cutting-edge technology.

“We have a National Broadband Plan aiming for 95 percent broadband coverage in Nigeria and we need to be smart in achieving the target.”

According to Abdullahi, the initiative on smart agriculture would help improve food production and productivity in agriculture. The use of Internet of Things (IoT), drones and other technologies would enhance productivity in agriculture.

“As part of the Presidential Redefined Priority Areas of achieving food security in the country, the president has mandated the cultivation of 500,000 acres of land. To achieve this successfully and efficiently, we need to use technology.”

The director-general expressed the willingness of the agency to work with Cisco to establish a pilot of the learning centre, part of the agency’s mandate to deploy IOM technology to underserved and unserved areas.

“Cisco is already working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for a pilot project in Maiduguri, Borno State, to deploy three learning centres using Cisco technology. We want to see how we can partner to scale up that initiative, as part of our mandate to deploy technology in underserved and unserved communities.”

In his remarks, Cisco’s Country Director, Mr. Clayton Naidoo expressed that Nigeria would benefit from the MoU by improving agricultural production, creating job opportunities and increasing citizens’ financial strength.

“We aim to leverage technology to bring economic opportunities to Nigeria, contributing to economic growth and job creation.”

According to him, Cisco has been unpacking the National Digital Agenda of the country, noting the Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan in alignment with Cisco programs, resources, technology and investment. “We aim to implement pilot projects to advance the acceleration of the digital plan.”

Reacting to each initiative, Naidoo disclosed that Cisco is at the forefront of Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence and will partner with NCAIR to build an experience center in the country.

The experience centre will support organisations across Nigeria, building robust cybersecurity and AI architectures through labs, design thinking rooms and testing equipment.

Cisco intends to build a world-class experience center benefiting all parts of Nigeria, bringing the power of the Cisco business unit into the space using technology.

“We will leverage our immersive video technology through WebEx to collaborate and design together with subject matter experts in Nigeria.”

The company will also build a broadband innovation hub with Galaxy Backbone in partnership with NITDA, aligning with the National Broadband Policy outlined by the minister. Cisco will work with IXPs and service providers to help build networks serving underutilised or marginalised communities.

“With the technology we are building, we aim to ensure internet economics are right, providing affordable technology to service providers for marginalised communities.”

Cisco’s IoT team builds sensor technology, and the company will create a use case around smart agriculture using agricultural bots and drone technology.

Naidoo commended the agency for the partnership, stating that Cisco is fully committed to it. “Work will commence immediately, with a focus on creating inclusive models empowering local communities and citizens of Nigeria.”

The event’s highlight was the visit to a demo smart farm at the Abuja Technology Village.

Source: ScienceNigeria

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