Nigeria can issue regulations to control whatever happens with emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, the National Commissioner for the Nigeria Data Protection Commission, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, has disclosed.

This is as he noted that the commission was playing a major role in creating an AI strategy for the country.

Recently, the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, DrBosunTijani, revealed that Nigeria needed to develop a national strategy to harness the power of AI for sustainable development.

He said, “With collaborative leadership, Nigeria seeks to pioneer ethical and inclusive Al innovation that improves welfare and expands opportunities for all its citizens.”

According to Olatunji, the recently passed Data Protection Act can protect the interests of Nigerians as emerging technologies continue to play a more prominent role in the world.

He stated this on the sidelines of a ‘Data Protection Training for Data Protection Officer, Processors and Controllers’, organised by the commission in partnership with the African Union, European Union Digital for Development Hub Project and the GIZ Digital Transformation Centre.

He said, “We (NDPC) are playing a major part in the AI strategy for the country. It is part of what we have taken care of in the law, emerging technologies.

“That is why I keep telling people in our clime, we are a bit lucky because as at the time we were working on our own law, we realised that a lot of things were happening and some DPAs did not take cognisance of it in their law. While we were tackling the law, we discussed it, and we were able to tackle it because it keeps evolving every day.

“Things change on the go. 10 to 15 years ago, no one was talking about emerging technologies like IoT, robotics, virtual reality, and AI. But it is our reality now, we do not know what will happen in next year, and the law empowers us to issue regulations to control whatever happens with emerging technologies. These are some of the new things we have in our law that some laws did not envisage.”

The recent boom in the AI industry has led to conversations around regulation, especially due to concerns about the seeming lack of limits for AI.

The co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, recently tasked governments, and the private sector to work on regulating the use of Artificial Intelligence for it to achieve its full potential.

Gates, who labelled AI as a limitless technology, noted that for the technology to reach its full potential, regulation was necessary to maximise its benefits and reduce its risks.

Speaking at a United States Senate AI Insight Forum, he said, “The potential of AI is limitless — but we will only realise that potential if the government, the private sector and civil society work together to maximise the technology’s benefits and minimise its risks.”

Nigeria was recently part of several countries that committed to a new policy paper called the Bletchley Declaration.

The declaration aims to reach a global consensus on how to tackle the risks that AI poses in the present and future as it develops.

Meanwhile, Olatunji declared that the commission was at different stages of investigating about 15 firms, some of which had been concluded.

He added, “Some are ongoing, these investigations will take time. We need to be thorough; we need to be effective; we need to come out with something that is detailed. It takes time, but we have concluded with about four and the most important thing for us is to take them through remediation for them to now see compliance as a culture and we have been able to achieve that in some of the organisations that we have concluded our investigations.”



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