NBA lectures members on AI’s role in economic growth

NBA lectures members on AI’s role in economic growth
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L-R: Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch Business forum, Mrs. Ajoke Akinsola; Chairman, Lagos Building Investment Company, Mr. Hakeem Ogunniran; Chairman, NBA Ikeja Branch, Mr Seyi Olawumi; and Co-chair, NBA, Ikeja Branch Business Forum, Mr Muyiwa Ayojimi; at NBA, Ikeja Branch inaugural lecture on Thursday in Lagos.
L-R: Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch Business forum, Mrs. Ajoke Akinsola; Chairman, Lagos Building Investment Company, Mr. Hakeem Ogunniran; Chairman, NBA Ikeja Branch, Mr Seyi Olawumi; and Co-chair, NBA, Ikeja Branch Business Forum, Mr Muyiwa Ayojimi; at NBA, Ikeja Branch inaugural lecture on Thursday in Lagos.

 

By Adenike Ayodele

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, on Thursday held the maiden edition of its business forum to point out economic opportunities presented by Artificial Intelligence (AI) for economic growth.

The forum had the theme: ” The Future Of AI and Corporate Governance For Companies”.

A keynote speaker, Dr Desmond Oriakhogba, said that the global AI market was expected to soar to $15.7 trillion by 2030.

Oriakhogba, an Associate Professor at the University of Western Cape, South Africa, said that AI offered a substantial growth potential for Africa, with Nigeria poised to benefit significantly.

Oriakhogba said that Nigeria’s AI market was projected to reach approximately $4.64 billion by 2030.

He attributed this to increasing awareness of AI’s capabilities and formation of strategic partnerships.

“This optimistic forecast reflects the country’s increasing investment in AI technologies and research.

“The Nigerian Government and private sector are working together to harness the transformative power of AI, which is expected to drive economic growth and development across various sectors,” he said.

He said that AI had potential for job creation, enhanced business efficiency and improved service delivery in sectors such as healthcare, agriculture and finance, as Nigeria would continue to adopt and integrate AI technologies.

“However, there is need for robust regulatory frameworks to ensure ethical and responsible AI use, while taking into cognizance both the opportunities and challenges ahead,” he said.

Oriakhogba also said that AI was evolving and had constantly been driven by advancements in information and communication technologies.

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“We can define AI broadly as powerful algorithms, machines or computer systems that mimic specific human activities, using techniques like machine learning, neural networks, logic programming and fuzzy logic,” he said.

The speaker further elaborated on AI’s categories, differentiating between Narrow AI and Artificial General Intelligence.

“Generative AI, a subset of Narrow AI, can semi-autonomously create new contents like text, images, music and videos, offering transformative potential in sectors such as entertainment, scientific research, education, healthcare, and corporate governance.

He said that AI was making significant impacts on legal processes, business ethics, governance, democracy, gender equality, human rights and the rule of law.

However, he cautioned that AI could exacerbate social, political and economic inequalities, particularly affecting vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, the elderly, children and women.

On corporate governance, he emphasised both the opportunities and challenges associated with AI.

“AI remains one of the top five most disruptive technologies.

“It can enhance decision-making processes, cybersecurity measures and risk management, but it also poses risks such as cybersecurity threats, data breaches and ethical dilemmas.

“Human oversight is essential to ensure ethical and unbiased decision-making,” he said.

He commended the Nigerian Government’s proactive stance on AI development, citing initiatives such as establishment of the National Centre for AI and Robotics by the National Information Technology Development Agency, and the development of a national AI policy.

“A regulatory regime that ensures transparency, accountability and ethical use of AI is crucial for fostering innovation while safeguarding ethical standards,” he said.

Dr Hakeem Ogunniran, Chairman of the Lagos Building Investment Company, highlighted critical aspects of corporate governance and the transformative impact of AI on business practices.

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According to him, corporate governance fundamentally revolves around three questions: who owns the company, for whom should the company be run, and what are the processes and systems in place?

Ogunniran, a corporate governance expert, emphasised the crucial difference between ownership and control in corporate governance, noting that shareholders owned businesses but boards and managements controlled them.

He said: “AI will enable, assist and enhance the processes but the outcome should still be the focus of corporate governance.

“Accountability is about being answerable when decisions are questioned, not just making decisions,” he said.

The Chairman of NBA, Ikeja Branch, Mr Seyi Olawumi, in his address of welcome, said that the forum served as a platform for sharing insights, fostering connections and exploring the evolving landscape of business law.

Olawunmi said that the forum presented an opportunity for members of the branch to learn from one another, collaborate and envision the future of legal work.

He said: “I have no doubt that the delivery of our speakers will be invaluable, and we are grateful for your willingness to share your knowledge and experience with us.

“I also want to encourage participants to think beyond conventional boundaries, because in this ever-evolving world, it is our collective creativity and resilience that will drive us forward.

“We will delve into critical topics that agitate in-house counsel and their industries – from technological advancement and regulatory challenges, to sustainable practices,” he said.

Mrs Ajoke Akinsola, Chairperson of the NBA Ikeja Business Forum, had, in her opening remarks, emphasised bridging of the gap between in-house counsel and the larger bar.

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“We all drank from the same fountain of knowledge but have re-invented ourselves as our practice grew.

“We are not different from each other; only iron sharpens iron,” Akinola said.

She also highlighted the forum’s mission to unite in-house counsel and the broader legal community through programmes and activities aimed at addressing common challenges.

“The theme of this maiden event is particularly targeted at how legal counsel can advise their managements on technological advancement in artificial intelligence.

“The theme also targets how today’s organisations can be guided using the governance framework as we navigate through a time of rapid change and unprecedented challenges.”
Edited by Ijeoma Popoola

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