Almost a year after it was first announced, Google’s first AI lab was officially opened in Accra.
Moustapha Cisse, head of the Google AI centre in Ghana, told AFP that Google believed that in certain areas, such as agriculture, Africa could benefit from AI more than other places, though the benefits may also be very apparent in sectors such healthcare and education.
The plan to open a new AI research centre in Ghana was announced in June 2018, with the original opening schedule set for late last year, but it was delayed. The Accra centre will be Google's first AI lab in the emerging world -- all other similar centers are in North America, Western Europe and East Asia (see map below).
The Ghana research centre will also be an AI research hub for Africa, with Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa all in its coverage area.
In addition to growing the machine learning capability for its own use, Google's AI team will also contribute to the local economy and education. Cisse told AFP that the research centre will work with local universities and startups in Africa, as well as sponsoring young people to take related training courses, to nurture them into the new generation AI developers.
Although Africa may not be the first market to be associated with AI or machine learning, the technology has started making concrete contributions. Francis Chanda Mumbi, Head of Innovation at Zambia's Stanbic Bank, told attendees at last year's AfricaCom event that the bank has used AI to automate certain operation processes and that natural language processing (NLP) has helped improve the efficiency of customer services.
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From cash to mobile: heading towards a cashless society
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Africa has the fastest growing population in the world and also the youngest, with 60% of Africans under the age of 25. It is clear that the next billion connected are going to be the mobile-only generation. This digital symposium will bring industry experts together to discuss Africa’s digital divide and how to get devices into the hands of young Africans and empower them to join the digital revolution.
Who’s Driving? The role of government & regulator, private tech companies, and public-private partnerships
Device affordability: are we reaching a tipping point?
Status check: Satellite vs Fiber and the enduring infrastructure gap
Exploring the wider societal and economic benefits of a connected, digitally literate continent