Africa has successfully launched her first humanoid robot, designed by a company in Africa’s most populous Black nation, Nigeria. The feat, which has generated positive reactions worldwide, has been commended by stakeholders in the technology industry. They believe the achievement sets Nigeria and the continent on the right path for global inclusion in technological advancement.
Unveiling the six-foot tall robot, christened Omeife, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, ably represented by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Ali Pantami, revealed that the project could generate as much as $11.6 billion within three years if commercialized.
The near-human resemblance, coupled with commendable language proficiency, good human movement accuracy, and gestures – all powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and modern Computer Vision capabilities, positions the prototype at the top of the list when compared to others developed in Asia, Europe and America.
During his remarks on behalf of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Mr. Ali Pantami noted that accepting Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Nigeria and the continent will help tackle critical issues such as insecurity and cater to citizens’ needs. He also revealed that the federal government would support the company and other stakeholders to ensure the country’s domestication of advanced technology and Artificial Intelligence.
“We are ready to support you and commercialize this technology. We want to see it deployed in our farms, road construction and in our classrooms,” Mr. Ali remarked.
He also noted that the office of the Vice President had sent a directive to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to partner with UNICCON Group – the company that designed the robot, for the domestication and commercialization of the Omeife technology.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, the chairman of the UNICCON Group, Mr. Chuks Emwueme, called on relevant stakeholders and governments not to commit only to the commercialization of the project but also to ensure that there is adequate acceptance, patronage, and usage of the robot technology by Africans across the continent. “I’m calling on the government, investors, public sector, and industries to see how they can partner with us,” he urged.
In his opening speech, the General Manager of the UNICCON Group, Mr. Olorogun Kehinde, informed the attendees that the technology was developed for publicity of the company, but rather to solve a fundamental problem by bridging the digital gap that is evident in African societies. He added that Omeife also helps project and celebrate the unique African identity to the world.
“This Robot is here to assist humans and not take their jobs. The Robot which has human characteristics can be used for surveillance purposes, intelligence gathering and research, voice transmission, intelligent conversations,” he said.
Omeife can speak eight languages, including Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, English, French, Arabic, Kiswahili, Pidgin, and Afrikaans.