Nigeria will be seeking partnerships to boost USPF, the fund basket expected to connect the nation’s rural populace, among other key technology needs that include AI at the UN General Assembly underway in New York, Dr ‘Bosun Tijani, Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy Minister says.
UNGA, which is the main policy-making organ of the United Nations comprising all Member States, provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the UN Charter.
How USPF can help bridge digital divide
At UNGA, Nigeria will be seeking partners to expand the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) that was established by the Federal Government “to facilitate the achievement of national policy goals for universal access and universal service to information and communication technologies (ICTs) in rural, un-served and under-served areas in Nigeria,” according to the Funds website.
“Connectivity is a catalyst for progress,” the Minister says in a LinkedIn post. “As we work towards bridging the digital divide, we seek partnerships that can boost the USPF. Our goal is to connect a vast number of unserved and underserved communities in Nigeria, fostering inclusivity and ensuring that every Nigerian benefits from the digital revolution.”
According to USPF, the Fund “is being managed to facilitate the widest possible access to affordable telecommunications services for greater social equity and inclusion for the people of Nigeria.”
In addition to the USPF, the delegation will be seeking partnerships to position Nigeria as a Hub for AI Training.
“Nigeria,” Dr Tijani says, “brims with a vibrant pool of talent, potential and innovation. We aspire to put Nigeria on the global map as a premier destination for AI model training. Not only does this promise significant job creation, but it also emphasises our commitment to enhancing the inclusivity and robustness of AI datasets. We envision capturing the nuances of dark data from the global south, ensuring that AI solutions resonate with a diverse spectrum of lived experiences.”
The Minister also says that another priority area will be the President’s agenda to accelerate economic diversification through technology.
“The agenda set forth by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu,” the Minister says, “champions economic diversification powered by technological applications. Our mission at the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy is clear – catalyse the productivity of critical sectors using technology. To this end, we are in pursuit of partnerships that can increase capital inflow to Nigerian startups via Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), bolstering our entrepreneurial ecosystem and setting the stage for sustainable growth.”
Dr Tijani says that UNGA “serves as an annual convergence point for global leaders to deliberate on the myriad of challenges we collectively face and, more importantly, to co-create a future bolstered by unity and a shared vision.
“As Nigeria positions itself at the nexus of technological innovation and sustainable development, my attendance at several events on the sidelines of the 78th session of UNGA 2023 takes on profound significance.”
The Minister says that, “For our great nation, this year’s UNGA presents an opportune moment to align our strategies, initiatives and aspirations with the global community.”
According to USPF, its connectivity programme comprises telecoms infrastructure projects that are implemented through Public-Private Partnership model. “They are subsidised by the USPF but implemented, owned and operated by Operators and Service Providers. They provide the platform on which the access projects thrive,” the Fund says on its website.