At opening of confab in Y’de: P&T minister drums need for national Artificial Intelligence roadmap.

Members of government at opening of conference in Yaounde

The Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Minette Libom Li Likeng, has encouraged stakeholders to establish a roadmap for Artificial Intelligence, AI, that will enable the country to fully exploit advantages the technology offers.

Minister Libom Li Likeng made the call Tuesday June 25. This was during the opening ceremony of the Artificial Intelligence Conference, CONIA 2024 in Yaounde. 

The MINPOSTEL boss presided over the event in the company of other members of government, diplomats, public actors, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, experts in the field as well as start-ups. 

The two-day conference is taking place under the theme: “Which governmental approaches for a better appropriation of Artificial Intelligence in Cameroon”. 

According to organisers, the aim is to draw a roadmap for optimal appropriation of the challenges, stakes and opportunities associated with the use of AI in various sectors of activity in the country. 

The meeting, Minister Libom Liken said, is holding in line with the prescriptions of the President of the Republic, Paul Biya, with regards to digital transformation of the country. 

She explained that AI technologies have become a crucial element in various fields ranging from health, education, finance, culture and security. 

These advancements, she said, highlight the rapid evolution of AI on a global scale and the profound transformation these technologies bring to society. 

According to the minister, AI represents a unique opportunity to accelerate socio-economic development. She furthered that AI can significantly transform various sectors by optimizing processes; improving efficiency and creating new job opportunities. 

The minister however said that while AI offers numerous opportunities, it also poses significant ethical and societal challenges like data privacy, algorithm bias and impact on employment, which she stressed, must be addressed proactively. 

Minister Libom Li Likeng said governments are moving towards the implementation of strategies, the creation of regulatory frameworks and the development of robust ethical policies to ensure the responsible and equitable use of AI. 

Cross-section of participants present during conference 


While emphasising on the importance of the conference, the member of government said she was convinced that stakeholders shall come up with a shared vision for the implementation of an AI strategy which will contribute to the development of Cameroon.  

“Artificial intelligence today is spreading in every sector and you need to organise the way you introduce artificial intelligence in your country. You need to improve the regulation, you need to sensitize the population not be afraid because everybody is talking about people going to lose their jobs, you are going to have robots. No, it is not about that,” the minister said.  

She rather posited that “you can introduce artificial intelligence to improve what you are doing but in an ethical and responsible way. In Cameroon, what we want to have after this meeting is a sort of roadmap of what we must do to be sure that we are going to succeed by introducing AI in what we are doing”.

According to the minister, the successful implementation of AI in the country requires an improvement in infrastructure. The member of government detailed that “without good infrastructure, you cannot go far with artificial intelligence and you need data. 

Minister Libom Li Likeng further mentioned that there is a need to control data produced by Cameroonians. According to the minister “It is from the data that we are going to build artificial intelligence”.  


Bridging technological gap 

According to minister Libom Li Lekeng, AI plays a crucial role in the global competition for technologically and economic supremacy which has caused a technological gap between advanced and developing countries. 

The imbalance, she disclosed, could exacerbate geopolitical tensions with technologically advanced countries potentially dominating markets and imposing their intentional standard.   

The minister told participants that those that do not develop their AI capabilities risk becoming dependent on technologies and standards imposed by other nations thereby limiting their strategy and economic autonomy. 

This, she added, means that the geostrategic position of countries today will depend on their ability to adopt and effectively integrate AI while developing strategies to minimize risk and maximize benefits.  

Speaking earlier, a representative of the International Telecommunication Union for Central Africa and Madagascar, Jean Jacque Massima, said AI should be used for the greater good of the population and not for other reasons. 

Massima's appeal was re-echoed by the Regional Director of the United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, Paul Coustere who called for the professional and ethical use of AI. Courtere said this will contribute to an inclusive, transparent, multi-cultural and free society. 


This story was first published in The Guardian Post issue No:3150 of Wednesday June 26, 2024


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