Google announced its plans to create the an Artificial Intelligence (AI) research centre in Accra, Ghana and it will be the first in Africa. The tech giant revealed they would open the first AI research centre in Africa "later this year".
Google disclosed these plans in a blog post and in this post the Silicon Valley giant laid out its strong desire to leave an indelible digital imprint on the continent. The blog post read, "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."
"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," the blog post read.
With this latest development, Accra will join cities like Paris, Zurich, Tokyo, Beijing, Montreal, Toronto, Seattle, Cambridge/Boston, Tel Aviv/Haifa, New York, and Google's own Mountain View/San Francisco headquarters in hosting AI research centres.
It's a positive development for Ghana, considering how it has positioned itself as a good destination for tech hubs. It's not only Ghana, but countries like Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa have also established their credentials as important tech hubs.
This is not the first project that Google is undertaking on this continent. It already runs the Launchpad Accelerator Africa program which supports 100,000 developers and over 60 technology startups in Africa. Apart from this, Google also operates a digital skills training program that it believes can ultimately benefit 10 million Africans.
The most probable reason why Ghana appealed to Google ahead of other African countries is because of the quality of its education system and other feeder institutions. The company probably feels there is a huge pool of talent to source from in Ghana.
Another factor is how Ghana enjoys relative political stability. Nigeria could have been an alternative choice, but the latent risk of civil risk in Nigeria always stands at a high. Ghana's entrepreneurial flair also made it a good choice, despite other countries like Kenya and Rwanda ranking higher than Ghana in terms of ease of doing business.
The new AI research centre is of monumental importance in Google’s overall business as the search giant continues to intensify its focus on artificial intelligence technology, which it has looked to as a key market differentiator for its recent hardware devices. The announcement also reflects a broader enthusiasm about AI technology, with other major firms like Qualcomm and Samsung also having recently announced new AI research centers around the world.
Google’s Accra AI Center will be headed by research scientist Moustapha Cisse, and the company is currently recruiting more talent ahead of the center’s opening.