a8df8ff2b14062db95f54dacf20b7e3f
Connect with us

ICT

Improving Education In Africa Via ML, AI

Published

on

Spread the love

One of the immediate challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic threw up was the challenge of maintaining the education system, as social interaction was almost impossible. It then becomes an urgent task to device a means to continue educating the young people. The most viable means was to use technologies to solve this problem. To be precise, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) came beckoning.

There is no doubt that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be the dominant technology of the future and will impact every aspect of the human civilisation. Most importantly, AI/ML (machine learning) will influence how communication networks, a lifeline of our society, will be run.

And more so, when there is also the need to bring to its barest minimum communication barrier in diverse cultures and languages as found in Nigeria and Africa at large, a reason Nigerian Experts in the field of Information and communication technology (ICT) are proposing the: “AI‑Based Classroom” project. With AI‑based Natural Language Processing (NLP), classroom conversations between pupils and teachers are processed at the network edge to extract keywords while maintaining speaker anonymity.

These keywords are then transmitted to a trained classifier in a central server, which is able to recommend captivating media content based on the input, providing students with intuitive examples, supporting a teacher’s explanations. The media content can then be shared on a digital display in the classroom or used in any other format.

Though, rather than attempting to replace the efforts of elementary school teachers, the proposed system is designed to augment it, maximizing both school hours and off-school hours in the learning process. Regrettably, development of AI-based classrooms depends on efficient speech recognition libraries as a critical prerequisite. This proved very difficult to find.

A group of students are driving one of such projects, under the guidance of Dr. James Agajo, Associate Professor and Head of Wireless Networks and Embedded Systems Technologies (WINEST) Research Group in the Department of Computer Engineering at the Federal University of Technology in Minna, Nigeria.

ALSO READ  FG Launches FABLAB 1.0 For Startups, Innovation Hubs

WINEST Research Group launched a study on “use cases and solutions for migrating to IMT‑2020/5G networks in emerging markets” and the focus was to determine how machine learning could help emerging markets to leapfrog technology generations to take advantage of emerging and future networks while optimizing energy consumption, network coverage, and communication overheads.

Dr. Agajo said, “What we did was to come up with Automatic Speech Recognition as it relates to African Languages. You know ordinarily, this thing exists but in foreign languages. When you go to a high profile international meeting, you see people using a speech translator, language translator in their ear. When they are speaking French, the other person is reading it to you in English.

“And we are saying that why do we need to always surrender to technologies from the west? Why not come down and equally do our own so that there would be no barrier? If you are speaking Hausa, the other person speaking; who probably does not have an interpreter can easily use this ASR, that is an Automatic Speech Recognition mechanism we are putting together to hear what you are saying. So it has to break that barrier and at the same time lessen that gap.

“But to achieve this, one needs a database for all the speeches because how the stuff  works is that; for every term you have in a particular language, English has a lot of words, those words are actually kept in a database; so that if you have Hausa, Yoruba, English, Idoma, whichever you are going to have, you can have all the words in a particular database.

“So, if you are able to capture all of the words in a database, then you could come up with a high level sophisticated program that would be selecting the item from a database and matching it with your own.

ALSO READ  Twitter Ban In Nigeria And The Many Implications

For instance, when you say in Yoruba, “wa”, then Hausa says “zo”, so you have the Yoruba word in the database, the Hausa word in the database too. When you speak each of these words in a language, it would check through the database and match it with an equivalent in a language of your choice.

That is why an issue of language barrier is not an issue in countries like the United States of America.

Dr James Agajo that has presented papers in high profile Conferences Organised by IEEE, Institute of Engineering Technology (IET), ITU, United States Environmental Protection Agency, National Space Research Development Agency, also said that: “We were in search of a speech recognition library which was able to function locally, meet users’ privacy concerns, and was freely available. In view of the extraordinary number of languages spoken across Nigeria, and Africa at large, we also needed a library able to perform well in processing the English language accented in many different ways.

“We evaluated many software libraries, but none of them succeeded in meeting all of these requirements. This led to the launch of a new WINEST Research Group project in February 2020 to develop a new speech recognition framework able to meet the unique requirements of the AI‑Based Classroom project.

“The project evolved from the discussions sparked by our presentation of the AI‑Based Classroom project at the 7th Regional Workshop on “Standardization of future networks towards building a better-connected Africa” in Abuja, Nigeria, 3–4 February 2020, convened by ITU’s standardization expert group for future networks and cloud computing, ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU–T) Study Group 13.

“The expert feedback provided by the Abuja workshop motivated our launch of a pilot project in Nigeria to develop African Automatic Speech Recognition System (AASRS)”.

“We are collecting speech data and developing the ASR engine to deliver a prototype able to guide the development of a system ready for market deployment. We have developed the “Wazobia” mobile application, to support the necessary data collection, where Nigerian “voice donors” read displayed text aloud and donate the recording anonymously”. Agajo further revealed.

ALSO READ  Pantami Charges Galaxy Backbone on Innovation, Customer Relations

“Wazobia” is an amalgam of three words meaning “come” in Yoruba (wa), Hausa (zo) and Igbo (bia), Nigeria’s three largest linguistics groups.

Agajo also said that, “The speech data is stored on our server as “invalidated” by default, pending the crowd-sourced validation of this data by volunteers via the Wazobia mobile app. This validation results in Boolean evaluations of the accuracy of the ASR engine’s transcriptions of recorded speech.

To date, the project through the freely available Wazobia mobile app has collected over three hours of speech corpus from over 170 voice donors. This is a welcome development.

It is almost impossible to believe that the majority of the whole world would be on its knees begging for the Pfizer vaccine for the COVID-19; a Coronavirus that, 15 months ago little was known about. Africa should be proactive in developing solutions for Africans and the whole world.

Author Profile

Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

ICT

FG Launches FABLAB 1.0 For Startups, Innovation Hubs

Published

on

Spread the love

The Federal Government has launched the first FABLAB 1.0 in Nigeria in line with the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, NDEPS.

The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Kashifu Abdullahi while commissioning the FABLAB 1.0 on Friday in Abuja, noted that the FATLAB is part of the agency’s effort to make Nigeria an innovation hub.Abdullahi added that the FABLAB would encourage all digital innovators and makers to drive their ideas from inception to impact.

“The FABLAB maintains an open access policy to allow it serve as a digital innovation accelerator for all innovators and makers.

ALSO READ  FG Launches FABLAB 1.0 For Startups, Innovation Hubs

“It allows open-production and public access to aid innovation and entrepreneurship activities,” he said.

He added that the center engages in hands-on digital fabrication, skills training and capacity building for both in-house staff and external participants in line with the its policies.

According to him, to further boost digital innovation awareness among Nigerian youths, visitation and tour of the lab facility by schools, universities, and research centers is encouraged.

It would be recalled that the digital fabrication laboratory, FABLAB  is the engine of implementation of ideas, innovation which serve all the entities within an ecosystem.

ALSO READ  See why you should not partake in online fraud

FABLAB has a state-of-the-art equipment that includes Printed Circuit Board, PCB, production equipment, Computer Numerical Control, CNC, machines, 3D printers, servers, Graphics processing units, GPUs, and other things.

Author Profile

Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

Continue Reading

ICT

Twitter Ban In Nigeria And The Many Implications

Published

on

Spread the love

Any responsible government would do everything doable to protect its corporate existence and the safety of its citizens; and so, when the Nigeria Federal Government suspend the use of the microblogging social media, Twitter in Nigeria on the premise of “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”, many elder statesmen that has foresight and or had worked for the unity of the country welcome it.

This is not the first time a government is banning or suspending a tech company that is perceived as hostile and so Nigeria is not the only country that has slammed a kind of restriction on tech companies for the reason of protecting citizenry and corporate existence.

Recently in February 2021, the India government release new intermediary Guidelines for social media platforms and asked all platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to follow these rules. They were given three months to comply with the rules or risked being suspend.

Also In recent episode of the US-China geopolitical showdown, President Joe Biden is enforcing a new executive order that bans investment in 59 Chinese companies including Huawei effective from August 2. The new decision prevents US investments in Chinese companies with suspected ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Joining Huawei on the list is chip maker SMIC, telecom operator China Mobile, video surveillance company Hikvision, and a plethora of Chinese defense sector companies, . A senior US official confirmed that about 58 and that more Chinese companies will likely be added to the list in the months to come.

According to gsmarena.com President Joe Biden was quoted as saying, “I find that the use of Chinese surveillance technology outside the PRC (People’s Republic of China) and the development or use of Chinese surveillance technology to facilitate repression or serious human rights abuse constitute unusual and extraordinary threats, which have their source in whole or substantial part outside the United States, to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and I hereby expand the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13959 to address those threats.”, to that effect.

The core issue with Huawei has been concerns about its coziness with the Chinese government and fears that its equipment could be used to spy on other countries and companies.

ALSO READ  Pantami Charges Galaxy Backbone on Innovation, Customer Relations

Why the twitter ban, first of its kind in Africa’s most populous country strange is because it came two days after the social media giant deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s account for violating its rule

However, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, while maintaining the stand of the FG at the investigative hearing organised by the House of Representatives joint committees on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values alongside the National Security, Justice and Commerce, on the controversial ban, had argued that the Nigerian government relied on the constitution, National Security Act, the Cybercrime law and Companies and Allied Matters Act, (CAMA) before it decided to suspend Twitter’s operations.

Alhaji Mohammed cited the activities of the Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, during the EndSARS protests as one of the reasons for the ban. It further said that Twitter also allowed it platform to be used by the proscribed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) to promote seditious and terrorist activities.

At the hearing, the minister decried the role played by Twitter during the EndSARS protests last October, saying that it did not only retweet the messages of the protesters but also raised funds for them.

“During the EndSARS protest, the same Twitter played an unsavoury role, by making its platform to retweet, and not just retweet the messages of the EndSARS protesters, but raising funds for the EndSARS protesters, before it was hijacked by hoodlums,” he said.

Twitter has not come out publicly to refute all these claim!

The EndSARS protest caused wanton destruction and looting of properties running into billions of Naira across the country, with accompanying loss of live and perpetration of more criminal activities of varying degree; such as jail break.

However, some Nigerians are not seeing it that way. Unfortunately, Immediately after Twitter’s suspension, Twitter users in the country, through VPNs, flooded the platform to express their anger and disappointment, prompting the Nigerian attorney general’s office order for immediate prosecution of Nigerians who try to bypass the government’s Twitter ban after the government suspended its operations.

ALSO READ  New SIM Registration to Resume April 19 As FG Lifts Embargo

Other advocates call on the FG to lift the suspension immediately takuing into cognizance the negative effect of the Twitter suspension on Nigerians who depend on the platform for their livelihood,

Engr. Benjamin Femi however has divergent opinion. He said that, “Individual benefits from a use of a particular social media that has been proved to be causing more harm than good may not be significant considering the collective disadvantages and national interest in the long run.”

“There may be more to this. Aside the initial claim that twitter platform is being used for activities inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria. Nigeria that has been celebrated as one of the few African countries attracting investment into its tech ecosystem was shunned when Twitter chose mere Ghana for its first African headquarters, which country will take that?” Benjamin further querried.

About 39 million Nigerians have a Twitter account, more than Ghana’s entire population of 32 million.

And so, one of the conditions given social media operating in the country is to establish office in Nigeria.

Twitter’s decision to choose Ghana over Nigeria was evident in a statement where the organisation described Ghana “as a champion for democracy, a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet”, and analysts said that this is a confirmation of Twitter’s decision not to choose Nigeria in the first place.

In 2021, as Nigeria ranked 120th out of 180 countries in the Reporters without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index, Analysts expressed fear that Buhari’s administration is reminiscent of his 1984 military regime. That He imposed draconian legislation that allowed the government to imprison any journalist or civil society member guilty of “embarrassing” the country’s military leader.

Many are afraid that the FG is removing freedom of speech by gaging the social media platforms. Aljazeera quoted Alumona, a 24 year old Nigerian as saying that, “The way things are going, I’m scared as a Nigerian because we don’t know what’s coming next,” he said.

Aside this, there is nothing wrong in the FG protecting 39 million Nigerian twitter users and regulating the activities of social media platforms, just the way traditional media are regulated in the country. The FG also directing social media to also establish office in Nigeria if they want to continue their business in Nigeria does not look like a bad idea.

ALSO READ  Made In Nigeria Phone To Hit Market Soon - ITF

Social media should show a little more respect for their customers in Nigeria. Twitter for instance, does not prioritize their customer base in Nigeria when it took it Africa Head Office to Ghana. This is because a customer base of over 39 million users may need to be travelling to Ghana to resolve social media account issue if need arise. That is a substantial loss of revenue!

According to, Tom Chukwudili, “The current stand of the FG would sanitise the social media scape by eliminating fake news, hate speech and entrenching cultural value into social. It would also create opportunity and avenue for homegrown social media that truly understand Nigeria cultural value to thrive.”

“As a software developer, if you have any problem with integration of some of the social media components, it take months, if not years to fix. Because they are not here in Nigeria where you can easily go and complain to them in their office.”, Tom lamented.

As debate rages on activities and regulation of social media, we hope that the authorities come out with framework that would engender safe social media for all.

Author Profile

Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

Continue Reading

Business and Economy

Made In Nigeria Phone To Hit Market Soon – ITF

Published

on

By

Spread the love

The Director General and Chief Executive of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Sir Joseph Ari has disclosed that the Fund is set to acquire machinery for mass production of ITF Mobile in Nigeria.

He said the Industrial Fund will soon hit the nation’s market when it commences the mass production and it launching into market the ITF mobile phones.

The DG in a press statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs Department, Suleyol Fred Chagu and made available to Journalists yesterday in Jos the Plateau State maintained that the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has initiated processes for the procurement and installation of a production line specially dedicated for that purpose at the ITF Model Skills Training Centre (MSTC), Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Ari, disclosed this when he received the leadership of the two in-house Unions of the Fund in his office at the Headquarters where he also revealed that since the symbolic presentation of the ITF Mobile phone to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Agency has been inundated with requests for partnership from corporate entities within the country.

ALSO READ  See why you should not partake in online fraud

In his words, “I have given directive to the Director of Technical and Vocational Skills Training Department, who is also the zonal Director of the ITF MSTC to get all the immediate machines so that we will be able to set up the production line.

“Since the good news, we have also received a lot of requests for partnership, including one from AfriOne, who want to
partner with us. This is good as we cannot do it alone because we are not an island unto ourselves. The main thing is that this product is a home grown product and this lends credence to the fact that we too can do it in Nigeria” he boastfully stated.

ALSO READ  Pantami Charges Galaxy Backbone on Innovation, Customer Relations

The DG expressed gratitude to the leadership of the two union bodies, “the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSACGOC) and Amalgamated Union Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Employees (AUPCTRE)” for identifying and supporting the Management, saying.
For him, “every leader should have a strategic vision. But you also need followers that will key into the leaders’
vision and happily, that’s what has happened in the ITF. The Unions have been great partners in progress. You
have at all times remodeled, looked at the vision, reviewed it along with us and the areas where you find us going
wrong, you took us back on track”.

He stressed the need for continuous dialogue as recipe for industrial harmony. “The relationship between the ITF, Management and the two Unions gives credence to the fact that it pays to dialogue.

President of Senior Staff (SSACGOC), Comrade Kayode Alakija and the Acting Chairman of AUPCTRE, Comrade Lawal Mohammed Ado earlier on in a separate remarks showered praises on the DG for the milestone achievement and urged the need to speed up the mass production of the android phone which, according to them, would be another source of revenue for the Agency.

Continue Reading

Recent Posts

Copyright © 2021 Informavores Nigeria Communication Enterprises | Powered by ObajeSoft Inc