Nigerian blockchain leader advocates AI to save African languages

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Lucky Uwakwe, chairman of Nigeria’s Blockchain Industry Coordinating Committee (BICCoN), has emphasized the importance of using artificial intelligence (AI) to preserve African languages at risk of extinction. 

In a recent interview with Cointelegraph, Uwakwe highlighted the urgent need to protect these languages as fewer people speak them due to various socio-economic factors. Uwakwe pointed to the example of languages in Plateau State, Nigeria, where insecurity has displaced communities, causing their languages to scatter and decline.

AI and blockchain use

According to Uwakwe, the goal is to ensure that no language is lost or becomes extinct. He noted that technological advancements like AI and blockchain could play a crucial role in achieving this goal. Uwakwe also highlighted a significant gap in language support provided by global tech giants.

“For instance, in Nigeria, Google only offers translation for 3-4 languages (Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, and Pidgin) out of over 100 languages. The rest are almost dying because software developers lack training models to support them in building new applications.”

However, this situation is not unique to Nigeria; it reflects a broader challenge across many African languages. To address this, Uwakwe advocates for leveraging AI and blockchain technologies to preserve and restore endangered languages.

Related: Nigeria plans nationwide AI and blockchain research centers

By integrating blockchain with AI, communities can be incentivized to speak and document their native languages, earning tokens in the process. These data sets are then used to train AI models to understand and support these languages, ensuring their survival and inclusion in future technological developments.

Nigeria’s path to innovation

Uwakwe’s commitment to this cause is further reinforced by his recent appointment as the LingoAI community ambassador for Nigeria and Africa. As CEO of Sabi Group, Uwakwe has promoted blockchain and Web3 solutions across the continent. 

This isn’t the first case of a Nigerian official advocating for the use of blockchain and AI for improvement in other areas of society.

On June 30, the chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Olanipekun Olukoyede, highlighted blockchain technology and artificial intelligence (AI) as tools to address illicit financial flows (IFFs) in Africa.

On April 19, Nigeria, through the Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, launched its first multilingual large language model (LLM) as part of its efforts to establish a leadership position in AI development in Africa.

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