A lecturer at the Kwara State University (KWASU), Abdulwaheed Musa has been awarded a National Research Fund (NRF) grant to develop artificial intelligence (AI) language models for the linguistic characteristics of major Nigerian languages.
Announcing the feat in a post on X, Musa, who is head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at KWASU, said:
“My team and I have been awarded a National Research Fund (NRF) Grant to develop advanced machine (deep) learning models and algorithms for Natural Language Processing (NLP) tailored to the linguistic characteristics of major Nigerian languages.”
He added that:
“In the next two years, I’ll be working with an amazing team across Nigeria (and beyond) to train my mentees and students, especially those in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and selected Nigerian languages.”
Natural language processing (NLP) is a branch of AI that allows computers to understand, generate, and manipulate human language.
Musa explained that the project, which is crucial to machine translation is likely to contribute to the development of AI technologies in Nigeria by delivering “a well-developed AI translator”.
The university don explained that he and his team will commence with developing learning models and algorithms for the three major languages in Nigeria – Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo.
“The outcomes of the research project are expected to enhance language accessibility and inclusivity in Nigeria, as well as foster cultural preservation and socio-economic development,” he said.
“The project will advance the field of natural language processing and machine translation, leading to more sophisticated AI language models with broader applications beyond translation.”
Musa, who serves as the director of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Systems (CAMS), expressed his aspirations for the research to spark the emergence of startups and businesses focused on language technology. The goal is to generate employment opportunities and encourage entrepreneurship in the language technology sector.