Nigeria Offering $290,000 Grant to Support AI Startups and Research

In an official communication, Bosun Tijani, Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy in Nigeria, confirmed that the government plans to invest in expanding artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. The minister stated that the Nigerian government will provide a grant to finance AI-related projects. 

Nigeria to Invest in AI Projects

Mr.Bosun argued that the numerous benefits of AI inspire the Nigerian government to finance startups and studies related to the development of AI technology. According to the minister, the government will issue grants totaling 5 million nairas, equivalent to $6444, to support creators and startups in the AI sector. 

Updating the X community, Mr Bosun argued that the grant program aims at supporting the country to realize the Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme (NAIRS) goal of  mainstream adoption of AI.

 Primarily, the NAIRS will focus on the main industrialization sectors, including agriculture, education, healthcare, and employment. During the launch of the NAIRS program, the Nigerian authority outlined the requirements for an eligible applicant.

NAIRS Grant Requirements 

The authority indicated that it was essential for the applicant to submit a research proposal that seeks to foster AI development. The applicant should conduct a study outlining benefits and the significance of improving the Nigerian economy using AI technology. 

However, the ministry requires the applicant to create an alliance with a startup, local, and foreign researcher to qualify for the program. Based on the NAIRS requirements, the applicant should demonstrate vast experience in research and entrepreneurship. 

Also, to be considered for the program, the applicant should have at least one publication or a peer-reviewed article of his research work. It implies that the NAIRS applicant should meet all the requirements to be fully eligible.

A review of the requirements, the NAIRS seems to be a competitive program since the selection criteria only considers the best candidate. Last month, the team behind the NAIRS program invited developers and scientists to participate in formulating the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy. 

Nigeria Pushing for High Usage of AI to Promote Economic Development

Guided by the National AI Initiative Act of 2020, the NAIRS team developed a comprehensive procedure to nurture AI development and expand its user case in different sectors in Nigeria. 

The report indicated that the eligible candidates can submit their proposals from October 13 to November 15 this year. Afterward, the ministry will work closely with AI experts to select viable proposals. 

The government anticipates that the usage of AI will replicate the crypto adoption in the country. Currently, Nigeria ranks as the leading African country with the highest adoption of crypto technology. 

Recent statistics demonstrated that between June 2022 and July this year, the crypto activities in Nigeria generated $56.7 billion, a 9% increase from last year. The surge in crypto-related activities in Nigeria has obliged the government to tighten regulations to address financial crimes and fraud.

Factors Contributing to High Adoption of Crypto in Nigeria

On Saturday, a federal court in Nigeria accused Lawrence Success Karinate, a crypto trader, of engaging in a fraudulent scheme breaching the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 section 22(2)(b). The court ordered Mr. Karinate to settle court penalties amounting to around 200000 naira for engaging in cybercrime offenses and online deception. 

The court judgment warned crypto traders planning to engage in exploitative business activities. The decision supports the government’s ongoing efforts to implement measures to combat financial crime. 

Despite the strict regulation, the Nigerian authority recognizes the benefits of blockchain and crypto in stimulating economic development.The government introduced a national blockchain policy in August to foster innovation and drive economic development. 

Launching the Nigerian blockchain policy aimed at expanding the government revenue streams through tokenizing real-world assets and expanding the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector. The approach encourages the Nigerian to develop innovative solutions to transform the education, entrepreneurship, supply chain, healthcare, and transport sectors. 

The adoption of emerging technologies such as blockchain crypto and AI aim at creating a new frontier of economic and tech opportunities in the African country.

Benefits of Blockchain Technology

A few weeks ago, Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) introduced blockchain in issuing education certificates. The NITDA announced plans to integrate blockchain technologies into the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) system to support certificate verification. 

The development aims to address the circulation of fake education documents that violate the Nigerian Criminal Code Act section 468. 

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