Nigeria Makes History with Africa’s First Multilingual LLM Launch


Amid the Binance Executive and Nigeria saga, the Nigerian Government has launched the first-ever multilingual large language model (LLM) in Africa. Dr. Bosun Tijani, the Minister for Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria posted the exciting news on his X account on Friday, April 19. 

Launching a multilingual large language model in Nigeria would bring numerous benefits like enabling easier access to information in different languages, facilitating cross-cultural communication, and enhancing language translation capabilities. This would promote inclusivity, foster collaboration, and drive technological advancements in the country.

Partnership drives Nigeria LLM innovation

The Minister highlighted that the introduction of the AI tool was made possible through a partnership with awarritech, DataDotOrg, The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and the National Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR).

The aim is to train the LLM in five low-resource languages and accented English, which will contribute to a more comprehensive representation of languages in existing data sets. The project will also receive valuable support from over 7,000 fellows participating in the 3MTT Nigeria program. He also mentioned that 21st Century Technologies and Galaxy Backbone teamed up to fast-track the crucial AI projects.

Beyond Nigeria, Africa is growing in terms of tech evolution. Recently, Cardano (ADA) announced its second major partnership in Africa as it looks to extend its adoption to the continent. It is incredible to see how these collaborations are shaping the future of technology in Africa as this exciting news complements the launching of the AI tool in Nigeria.

Major funding and NCAIR re-launch

The four-day AI workshop held in Abuja played a vital role in establishing the groundwork for this groundbreaking development. The workshop was instrumental in setting the foundation for this exciting progress. This significant step showcases Nigeria’s commitment to taking a leadership position in artificial intelligence (AI) development in Africa. 

21st Century Technology is stepping up by providing funding to purchase GPUs, which will greatly enhance the computing capacity in Nigeria. These resources will support local researchers, startups, and government entities in their AI projects at the GBB Data Center in the country’s capital. 

Additionally, the relaunch of NCAIR, a dedicated entity for promoting research and development in AI, robotics, UAV, and IoT, will further drive digital innovation in Nigeria’s key sectors. The National AI Strategy has also secured $3.5 million in seed funding from various partners, including UNDP, UNESCO, Meta, Google, Microsoft, and more. This investment will undoubtedly propel Nigeria’s AI initiatives forward.

Nigeria and Pioneering CBDC Innovation

Besides launching an LLM to drive AI innovations to bolster its digital economy, the country has also registered a prior history by being the first in Africa to launch a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

Dubbed the e-Naira, the Central Bank of Nigeria championed the move and though adoption has been at a very low pace, its leadership role in the African tech scene remains profound.

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