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Nigeria announces first multilingual Large Language Model

Nigeria has taken a significant leap forward in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

After a four-day National Artificial Intelligence Strategy Co-Creation Workshop in Abuja, Bosun Tijani, Nigeria’s minister of communications, innovation and digital economy has revealed the country’s first multilingual Large Language Model (LLM) and three other initiatives. 

Sidebar: An LLM is an AI tool trained to process and respond to queries in multiple languages.

Minister Tijani revealed the AI tool is being developed through a partnership between a Nigerian AI company, Awarritech, a global tech company, DataDotOrg, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and the National Centre for AI and Robotics (NCAIR), which he also announced its relaunch.

The LLM will be trained in five low-resource languages, alongside English, to ensure inclusive language representation within AI datasets. Additionally, over 7,000 fellows from Nigeria’s Three Million Technical Talent (3MTT) programme will support the LLM project. The workshop also convened over 120 AI experts to develop a comprehensive policy to advance AI adoption across the country, 

Minister Tijani also noted that the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy received $3.5 million in seed funding from interested parties.

The three other initiativesinclude launching The Nigeria Computing Infrastructure Pilot, to address resource limitations for AI projects, the Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Collective to drive collaboration among AI stakeholders, and Rapporteur AI, a world-first tool to automate report generation for increased efficiency.

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Stricter penalties for fibre damage in Nigeria

Last month, millions of Africans across Nigeria and South Africa suffered internet blackouts after a major subsea cable was cut. While the cause of the cable cut is still unknown, damage to internet and telecom cables isn’t new to telecoms. In 2023, MTN Nigeria experienced over 6,000 disruptions to its fibre network, resulting in numerous hours of service interruptions. The company invested ₦11 billion ($9.5 million) to relocate 2,500 kilometres of susceptible fibre cables between 2022 and 2023. Consequently, MTN expressed concerns to the government about spending billions of naira to fix damaged broadband cables. 

Now, Nigeria’s ministry of works is set to criminalise the destruction of broadband fibre cables. It will be signed into law as an executive order by President Bola Tinubu.

This move comes in response to ongoing damages and grievances expressed by MTN Nigeria Communications Plc and other telecommunications firms that are losing billions of naira due to this damage. Fixing cable cuts caused MTN and Airtel ₦27 billion ($23.5 million) in losses in 2023

JSYK: Broadband fibre cables transmit high-speed internet. They offer faster and more reliable internet connections compared to traditional copper cables, making them increasingly popular for providing internet services to homes and businesses. 

Damage to these cables can cause service outages, financial loss for telecommunications companies and communication disruptions. 

A new line: While there are existing laws against vandalism in Nigeria like Section 451 of the Criminal Code which punishes vandalism with 2 years imprisonment. , this new regulation aims to enforce stiffer penalties on offenders and focus on underground network cables. It will also focus on construction companies, as they’re often the culprits.

Tony Izuagbe Emoekpere, who leads the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, expressed his optimism about the upcoming presidential order. Speaking on behalf of telecoms, Emoekpere believes the new law could help the industry grow and attract more investment.

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Access Holdings secures shareholder backing for $1.8 billion capital raise

In March 2024, Access Holdings, the parent company of Nigeria’s largest bank by asset base— Access Bank— announced plans to raise $1.8 billion through a bond or share sales and a rights issue targeting existing shareholders.

On April 19, shareholders of Access Holdings approved its plan to raise $1.8 billion in capital. This will address the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) new capital requirements of $364 million, support the company’s ongoing working capital needs and fund organic growth for its banking and non-banking subsidiaries.

Shareholders also approved the payment of a final dividend of ₦1.80 kobo per every ₦0.50 Kobo ordinary share, a 28% improvement from the corresponding period in 2022.

A stellar financial performance: The news comes on the heels of Access Holdings reporting a 335% increase in pre-tax profit, an 87% surge in gross earnings, and a 306% growth in profit after tax for the 2023 financial year. 

This capital raise positions Access Holdings for continued expansion with plans to expand its operations over the next four years as it targets becoming one of the continent’s largest lenders.

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Beltone Ventures and CI Capital launch $30 million African fund

In a move to support the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s early-stage tech ecosystem, Beltone Holding’s venture capital arm, Beltone Venture Capital (BVC), has partnered with CI Venture Capital, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s Citadel International Holdings, to launch a $30 million fund

The funding aims to invest and provide financial backing for early-stage startups in the MENA region. It will also involve providing guidance and support to the founders as their companies scale up. The funding already deployed in part, has been invested in promising startups across various sectors in Egypt, including Bosta, Trella, ariika and UAE’s Qlub. This collaboration signals a commitment to supporting growth in tech companies in the region.

More Than Just Seed Money; Mokhtar explained the fund’s strategy “The fund will primarily target pre-seed and seed investment rounds, while also supporting our top-performing portfolio companies through subsequent funding stages. Additionally, we’re open to investing in compelling opportunities across various funding levels.”

Building the MENA Tech Future Fady Dahlan, managing partner at CI Venture Capital, expressed his excitement about the partnership, “We’re thrilled to join forces with Beltone Venture Capital to nurture high-potential tech companies. Our joint investment will bolster the early-stage innovation landscape in the MENA region.”

Ali Mokhtar, CEO of Beltone Venture Capital also emphasised BVC’s core values and focus, saying “This fund represents a continuation of our established approach since BVC’s founding in 2023. It reflects our core ethos of partnering with founders and acting as value investors, aiding startups in scaling and realizing their potential. Our goal is to broaden our regional footprint, focusing on sectors with high margins and anticipated exponential growth driven by technology.”

More Than Just Seed Money; Mokhtar explained the fund’s strategy “The fund will primarily target pre-seed and seed investment rounds, while also supporting our top-performing portfolio companies through subsequent funding stages. Additionally, we’re open to investing in compelling opportunities across various funding levels.”

This approach positions the Beltone-CI partnership as a strong ally for MENA’s budding tech ventures, providing not just capital, but guidance and support throughout their growth journey. With established players joining forces, the future looks bright for the region’s early-stage tech companies.

Attend GITEX Africa

GITEX Africa returns a second time on May 29–31, 2024, to Marrakech, Morocco, discussing ways to accelerate the continent’s digital health revolution. GITEX is the continent’s largest all-inclusive tech event renowned for uniting the brightest minds in the technology industry. 

Grab your tickets here.

Crypto Tracker

The World Wide Web3


Coinmarketcap logo

Coin Name

Current Value



Bitcoin $64,960

– 0.16%

– 1.53%

Ether $3,147

– 0.12%

– 9.56%



– 2.27%

– 22.07%

Solana $148.82

– 1.93%

– 13.30%

* Data as of 21:25 PM WAT, April 21, 2024.


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Written by: Mariam Muhammad & Towobola Bamgbose

Edited by: Timi Odueso

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