Adaku Nwakanma

A budding photographer and enthusiastic storyteller, Adaku enjoys deep and open conversations spanning a wide range of topics, with focus on women, governance, emotional and mental health, and Africa.

Google’s first African AI research centre boosts Ghana’s tech credibility

Google has announced that its first African artificial intelligence research centre will open in Ghana later this year. Computer Scientist Jeff Dean said in an official statement, “Today, we’re announcing a Google AI research center in Africa, which will open later this year in Accra, Ghana. We’ll bring together top machine learning researchers and engineers in this new center dedicated to AI research and its applications.

“We’re committed to collaborating with local universities and research centers, as well as working with policy makers on the potential uses of AI in Africa,” the statement continued.

The impact of technology across Africa is extensive, seeing changes to the way people live, move, work, and even bank. Amazing things continue to be done with the internet and technology—for themselves, their communities and the world. Events like the 2017 Deep Learning Indaba event in South Africa, and follow-on IndabaX events in 2018 in multiple countries have shown an exciting growth of the computer science research community, and increased interest in machine learning research across the continent.

Google Brain co-founder and computer scientist Jeff Dean.

Though Accra has a vibrant tech industry, it would not have been the obvious location for many Africa tech watchers when compared with Nairobi or nearby Lagos, both which have seen lots of activity in the tech space. But then, deciding on the location was a difficult decision, said Dean, team lead for Google Brain under which its AI projects are housed. “In the end, we chose Accra because of a strong ecosystem of local universities and its proximity to a branch of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and our experience in the country,” said Dean on Twitter. “It is our hope that over time we can consider other research locations as well.” Staff Research Scientist Moustapha Cisse will lead Google AI”s center in Accra.

Google continues to mark its footprints in Africa. Ultimately 10 million Africans will benefit from Google’s digital skills training program with 2 million people having already completed the course. Google’s Launchpad Accelerator Africa intends to support 100,000 developers and over 60 tech startups while also adapting products to make it easy for people to discover the best of the internet, even on low-RAM smartphones or unstable network connections.

“AI has great potential to positively impact the world, and more so if the world is well represented in the development of new AI technologies. So it makes sense to us that the world should be well represented in the development of AI.” said Dean.

The new AI center in Accra joins the list of other Google AI locations, including Paris, Zurich, Tokyo, Beijing, Montreal, Toronto, Seattle, Cambridge/Boston, Tel Aviv/Haifa, New York, and ofcourse, its Mountain View/San Francisco headquarters.