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By Daniel Chukwuemelie and Theodora Isola

Africa as a continent though very familiar with the positive impact of emerging technologies still lags on its usage considering the innovations required to make it commercially available to developing countries and their communities thus making it “not widely available in the market and used by people (Halaweh, 2013)”. This article focuses on the emerging technology, Artificial Intelligence, and Robotics and how we can redefine healthcare and security because we believe these technologies have the potential to gain relevance in Africa. While the western world is on the verge of normalizing certain cultures regarding the use of robotics and artificial intelligence in their daily lives, African countries, on the other hand, have not pushed themselves into that era, thereby affecting the majority of the sectors that are meant to improve lives. According to Arakpogun et. al (2021, pg377),” several Artificial intelligence research hubs have been established across Africa such as Robotics and Agent Lab established by the University of Cape Town, South Africa also non-governmental organisations like Data Science Africa based in Kenya focuses on providing affordability, wider employability, and suitability of AI solutions in Africa”. It’s high time we leverage the use of artificial intelligence and robotics effectively to help improve the lives of Africans, most especially those in Nigeria who have the potential of transforming Africa through the right positioning and capacity beginning from these businesses and the government then across other industries through seeing how international communities’ can play their role “in bridging the technological gaps in Africa by adopting a problem-driven approach where local needs and problems are contextualised into AI policy formulation rather than a blanket ‘copy-and-paste’ practice that has limited the advancement of development policies in Africa” Arakpogun et. al (2021). Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and this will be beneficial in wide data collection and analysis to determine how these technologies would affect and/or improve lives in healthcare and security. Irrespective of the number of technology companies in Nigeria that focus on these areas, the core goal, and mission to be met have not been fulfilled. Security and sustainable healthcare sectors are vital in human lives, the use of artificial intelligence and robotics redefines and improves them in every possible way and we will look at these in detail.

On Healthcare

Artificial Intelligence - Healthcare | Image Source: Google Images

The use of data science and/or machine learning has saved lives, solved health problems, and many more. It has aided in fields like biomedical engineering, biological sciences, genetics, and plant breeding just to name a few. Artificial intelligence is not one technology, but rather a collection of them. Most of these technologies have immediate relevance to the healthcare field, but the specific processes and tasks they support vary widely. Some particular AI technologies of high importance to healthcare include; Machine learning – neural networks and deep learning, Natural language processing, Rule-based expert systems, and Physical robots. Applications of deep learning in healthcare include modeling and representation of complex biomedical data, temporal modeling in data integration and interpretability, and commonly,  the recognition of potentially cancerous lesions in radiology images. Deep learning is increasingly being applied to radiomics or the detection of clinically relevant features in imaging data beyond what can be perceived by the human eye. Both radiomics and deep learning are most commonly found in oncology-oriented image analysis. Their combination appears to promise greater accuracy in diagnosis than the previous generation of automated tools for image analysis, known as computer-aided detection or CAD. (Davenport & Kalakota, 2019)

Take a look at the recent Covid 19 cases, and the use of computational data analysis and machine learning which has an application in AI for infectious disease prevention and surveillance. As we can see the need for these technologies worldwide, we also look at the implications of not having them at all, like during the time of the Black Death, Spanish flu, and the Plague of Justinian, where the use of these technologies could have come to aid but was not feasible due to the fact that it was not just present as at the time. Africa as a whole has always depended on other continents like America or Europe to develop a vaccine, come to aid, and/or treat the illness that they feel only these continents can cure. These technologies have been made no secret nor has it been restricted from being thought in African schools, so there is no reason as to why they should not be adopted by them. Nigeria’s population is more than twice of many nations in Africa with a lot of experts in these techniques, while there is little investment in these technology sectors in Nigeria, there is no development in human to machine interactions to help in more investment by other private tech companies. The physically impaired patients are also neglected in this part of the world and the use of robotics and AI can go a long way in integrating this demography back into the society and also help in building a better economy. Assistive robotics whether wearable or surgically planted will positively impact them and create a nation that can also embrace these technologies, invest in them, and create solutions themselves instead of relying on other technologically advanced nations for every problem faced. These will also extend to the use of medical robots that aid humans in performing successful surgeries, multi-tasking, saving time in performing a particular surgery, and reducing risks of unseen mistakes during surgery. Irrespective of the time at which this technology was invented, statistics have shown that robots are 30% more efficient than humans in completing tasks as it also reduces the workload of other staff within the hospital.  As Covid 19 pandemic hit the world, although Nigeria did not lose a lot of medical personnel as compared to many nations, if robots were built, programmed, and tasked to administer, treat and care for the infected patients in every known isolation center in the world, less medical personnel would have lost their lives as they were also infected, more patients would have been reached and cared for as robot is more efficient than humans in completing repetitive tasks irrespective of the location, time, weather and another known factor that could prevent humans from completing the same task. This begs the need for a human robot interaction, human robot teaming, human to robot trust as it would only help both parties as the case may be.

On Security

Artificial Intelligence - Security | Image Source: Google Images

The inclusion of artificial intelligence and robotics in security can be termed one of the wisest and most productive decisions ever made by man. It assures financial security, data and asset security, life security, and a lot more. Most of these applications are practiced in the Americas and Europe because they develop, embrace, integrate and see the importance of this technology in society. In Nigeria, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy established a center where artificial intelligence and robots would be deployed to fight crime and criminality in Nigeria according to Punch newspaper. Although this looks like a good step, it has not come to any result yet as we have seen that the crime has taken an increment trajectory instead of the other way. Let us take a look at the use of installing CCTV cameras in every street, building, town, and road, the use of autonomous communication and security satellites and drones in the outer space, the use of AI in the military, traffic systems, banks, homes and businesses and think of the good impact it could make. On the 26th of July 2009, Nigeria experienced its first minor attack from the now known terrorist group, Boko haram, which the government never fully put its minds to. Then in 2010, they launched their first major terrorist attack in Borno in January, killing several people, this was barely one year after the first attack was carried out. To this day Nigeria’s security in all rounds has diminished and the use of artificial intelligence in different weapons and systems could have impacted heavily and positively in curbing life frightening issues like this. Artificial intelligence in drones and satellites can also be used in tracing, tracking, detecting, and locating known or unknown insurgency in the state, as we have seen in some developed countries that heavily invest and practice these techniques. An AI-controlled CCTV camera mounted in strategic areas can help solve cases of unknown burglars, rapists, kidnappers, serial killers, and different known or unknown security cases present. But the issue here is that Nigeria sees the need in investing, develop, and practice these techniques to improve lives in society. Foreign investors certainly see the need for the inclusion of these practices because it ensures the security of their business. Incorporating AI algorithms and computer vision in naval vessels and aircraft will show Nigeria means business in ensuring the importance of national security in its agenda. The military and paramilitary services will be encouraged to learn, fight and defend their nation at a better length as they have been stretched beyond their traditional capacity as they struggle with an insurgency that seems unending.

AI and robotics such as house alarms, optic sensors and biometrics, and fire alarms when introduced to Nigerian homes will reduce incidents like burglary, fire incidents, etc.  When an intruder tries to break into the house, the house alarms alert the owner, optic sensors and biometrics will only recognize persons living in the house, and will grant them access to the house.


In the words of Arakpogun et al, “the role of government in nurturing a conducive environment for startups are well established in the innovation eco-system. As the innovation literature points out ‘innovation, like regional competitiveness, will not be achieved by fiat but rather through a combination of public and private initiatives. A national initiative eco-system is composed of complex linkages between a variety of actors including entrepreneurs, large corporations, universities, governments, and Users. The system must provide the right incentives for actors to encourage them in innovative activities. These incentives can take the form of funds or seed capital for entrepreneur and universities research centers engaged in AI technologies, encouragement of collaboration between universities and the private sector; and provision of tax policies that rewards innovation in AI”.

In the medical field, there is a need for AI manufacturers/vendors, policymakers, and all stakeholders including governments of various African countries to work at addressing end users’ concerns about AI in medical imaging for a successful implementation of AI in Africa, end users’ concerns like issues of probable job losses, equipment maintenance culture, training and education of personnel, when these issues are not addressed AI could do more harm than good in redefining the health sector (Antwi, 2021).

For national security and competitiveness, AI gives Africa a fighting chance, and safety measures such as the introduction of a good cyberspace and regulation committees in the different sectors where these technologies are used and their importance well known will help protect these systems, and technology from external or internal hacks, loss of important data and information, and unnecessary bias. Most importantly, it will regulate how these technologies are used, how efficient it is used to solve problems and perform tasks the right way and improve its policy to help accommodate better lives for the citizens.


1. Antwi, W.K., Akudjedu, T.N. & Botwe, B.O.(2021) Artificial intelligence in medical imaging practice in Africa: a qualitative content analysis study of radiographers’ perspectives. Insights Imaging 12, 80. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13244-021-01028-z

2. Davenport, T., & Kalakota, R. (2019). The potential for artificial intelligence in healthcare. Future healthcare journal, 6(2), 94–98. https://doi.org/10.7861/futurehosp.6-2-94

3. O Arakpogun et. al. (2021) Artificial Intelligence in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities. The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Implementation of Artificial Intelligence …edited by Allam Hamdan, Aboul Ella Hassanien, Anjum Razzaque, Bahaaeddin Alareeni.  pg 374-388 http://books.google.com.ng/books?id=t-gdEAAAQBAJ&lpg=PA373&dq=info%3AK2p3BB3lZ5gJ%3Ascholar.google.com%2F&lr&pg=PA386#v=onepage&q&f=false

4. Mohanad Halaweh (2013) Emerging Technology: What is it? Journal of Technology Management & Innovation 8 (3), 108-115, https://scielo.conicyt.cl/scielo.php?pid=S0718-27242013000400010&script=sci_arttext&tlng=n

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