Nigerian official advocates blockchain, AI against illicit financial flows

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The financial watchdog chair said that if recovered, the funds could significantly enhance infrastructure, healthcare and education across the continent.

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Nigerian official advocates blockchain, AI against illicit financial flows

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The chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Olanipekun Olukoyede, has highlighted blockchain technology and artificial intelligence (AI) as tools to address illicit financial flows (IFFs) in Africa. 

According to local media, Olukoyede highlighted the $88.6 billion lost annually in African countries due to IFFs at the Pan-African Conference on Illicit Financial Flows and Taxation.

Fighting illicit financial flows

The conference is the premier annual forum of the African Union. It brings together stakeholders across Africa to discuss IFFs and taxation. This conference facilitates sharing insights, strategies and best practices to address the challenge of IFFs.

The financial watchdog chair said establishing robust legal frameworks and capacity building at national, regional and international levels is essential. Olukoyede advocated adopting advanced technologies such as data analytics, blockchain and artificial intelligence to enhance asset tracking and recovery efforts.

Source: Economic and Financial Crimes Commission

The financial watchdog chair said that if recovered, the funds could significantly enhance infrastructure, healthcare and education across the continent. He cited successful recoveries, such as the $311 million repatriated from the United States in 2020 linked to former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, as an example of practical international cooperation.

Related: Nigeria’s SEC boss says crypto can aid 38M unbanked

According to Olukoyede, effective anti-corruption efforts require international pressure to ensure cooperation from tax havens and low-tax jurisdictions, stressing the need for strong advocacy.

Blockchain and AI in Nigeria

Nigeria has recently taken steps to embrace blockchain technology and AI.

In May, Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) restructured the National Blockchain Policy Steering Committee (NBPSC) to reassess the policies guiding the implementation of the country’s National Blockchain Policy.

The review forms part of efforts to stay abreast of blockchain innovations and expand its reach by involving additional stakeholders, promoting comprehensive adoption and successful execution.

In April, NITDA advocated incorporating artificial intelligence into Nigeria’s security framework to improve outcomes. The agency’s Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, said the security and IT sectors can use technologies such a AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve the security sector.

The NITDA is promoting AI growth in Nigeria through initiatives like the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and developing a National Artificial Intelligence Policy.

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