Developing AI Talent for the Nigerian Public Service: The Role of NITDA/NCAIR

In November 2020, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) setup a subsidiary known as the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (NCAIR) to spearhead government-led initiatives in AI and robotics. This report presents the authors' thoughts on how NITDA/NCAIR can support Nigeria in recruiting, retaining, and retraining AI talent for the public sector. It also establishes that Nigeria suffers from a senior-level emerging talent shortage, affecting its ability to effectively regulate emerging technologies or adapt them for public service delivery.

Doing so will require the government to adopt an entrepreneurial and competitive approach toward workforce development, which can be replicated across other aspects of the public service where there is a talent shortage. It will involve a mix of strategies, ranging from higher wages, studying the recruitment and compensation structures obtainable in the tech sector, supporting regulatory technology (regtech) startups, and more.

Under the extant NITDA Act and the proposed amendment bill to this Act, NITDA is well-positioned to implement some of these strategies through committees that may be tasked with interacting with workers in technology-focused enterprises. The findings of such committees can inform the NITDA Board on how to develop comparable in-house structures and the right work environment for attracting tech talent.