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Google launches AI accelerator for Africa

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Google has announced a new startup accelerator program for Africa, aimed specifically at artificial intelligence (AI) startups looking to use AI to solve local challenges.

The Google for Startups Accelerator: AI First program recognizes the transformative role that AI is playing across the world, innovating industries and reimagining the realms of possibilities, Google said.

It also highlights the significant contributions of African startups in addressing some of the region's most pressing challenges through the use of AI.

The "AI First" program draws learnings from past initiatives such as the Google for Startups Accelerator: Africa, The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, and The Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders, where the primary aspiration remains to support and highlight African-driven solutions.

Applications for the ten-week equity-free "AI First" accelerator are now open, inviting startups up to series A stage based in Africa or building Africa-centric solutions with AI and machine learning.

Participants will benefit from access to Google's AI expertise, technical resources including up to $350,000 Google Cloud Credits, mentorship from seasoned AI professionals and networking opportunities.

"Africa's tech landscape is vibrant and ever-evolving. It's inspiring to see African startups not only harnessing AI to address our unique challenges but also setting benchmarks for the world," said Google's Head of Startup Ecosystem for Africa Folarin Aiyegbusi in a statement.

"AI First is more than a program; it's a testament to our belief in the vision of these startups, ensuring they have the support and guidance they need to realise their full potential," Aiyegbusi added.

Google's Head of Startup Ecosystem for Africa Folarin Aiyegbusi.   (Source: Google)
Google's Head of Startup Ecosystem for Africa Folarin Aiyegbusi.
(Source: Google)

Since inception in 2018, the Google for Startups Accelerator: Africa program has supported 106 startups from 17 African countries. Collectively, these startups have raised over $263 million in funding and created over 2,800 direct job opportunities in the region, the tech giant said.

Interested AI startups need to apply by September 6, 2023.

Training for Nigeria's youth

Last week, Google also announced it plans to train 20,000 Nigerian women and youth in digital skills and provide a grant of 1.2 billion naira (US$1.6 million) to help the Nigerian government to create one million digital jobs in the country.

Reuters quoted Google Africa executives saying a grant from its philanthropic arm in partnership with Data Science Nigeria and the Creative Industry Initiative for Africa will facilitate the training program.

Google Director for West Africa Olumide Balogun said the company would commit funds and provide digital skills to women and young people in Nigeria – enabling startups to grow and create jobs.

In 2021, Google pledged to invest $1 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation through a range of initiatives.

Earlier this month, South Africa's Competition Commission (CompCom) called out Google, along with other online platforms, demanding that they improve competition for smaller players locally.

Related posts:

*Top image source: Google.

— The Staff, Connecting Africa

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