Googles next A.I. Cen­tre will be Ghana

Zambian Business Times - - FRONT PAGE -

• Google will open an ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) re­search cen­ter in Ac­cra, Ghana, later this year, its first on the African con­ti­nent. • Other African cities in­clud­ing Ad­dis Ababa, Ki­gali and La­gos have also been push­ing their cre­den­tials as tech hubs. • Ghana likely ap­pealed to Google be­cause of its high qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, an ex­pert in the re­gion told CNBC.

Google has an­nounced that it will open an ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) re­search cen­ter in Africa, its first on the con­ti­nent.

The Sil­i­con Val­ley gi­ant said that the new re­search hub will open in Ac­cra, Ghana, later this year, an­nounc­ing the move in a blog post pub­lished last week.

“We’re com­mit­ted to col­lab­o­rat­ing with lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties and re­search cen­tres, as well as work­ing with pol­icy mak­ers on the po­ten­tial uses of AI in Africa,” Google’s blog post said.

Ac­cra, lo­cated in the west of Africa, joins cities in­clud­ing Paris, New York and Tokyo, as well as Google’s Moun­tain View head­quar­ters, in host­ing an AI re­search cen­ter.

While the de­ci­sion is the first of its kind for Google in Africa, the com­pany has had of­fices on the con­ti­nent for the past decade. It al­ready op­er­ates a dig­i­tal skills train­ing pro­gram that it be­lieves can ul­ti­mately ben­e­fit 10 mil­lion Africans. In ad­di­tion, Google runs a sep­a­rate ini­tia­tive called Launch­pad Ac­cel­er­a­tor Africa that it says sup­ports 100,000 de­vel­op­ers and over 60 tech­nol­ogy start-ups in Africa.

But, Ac­cra isn’t the only city in Africa posit­ing it­self as a tech hub. Ethiopian cap­i­tal Ad­dis Ababa and Rwan­dan cap­i­tal Ki­gali are both known for their cre­den­tials in tech devel­op­ment, for ex­am­ple. Mean­while, Kenya has been sin­gled out by Mi­crosoft founder Bill Gates for its “pi­o­neer­ing” in­no­va­tion of dig­i­tal pay­ments plat­form M-Pesa.

Ghana likely ap­pealed to Google be­cause of the qual­ity of its ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and other feeder in­sti­tu­tions, Lucy James, as­so­ci­ate con­sul­tant with Con­trol Risks’ Africa team, told CNBC via tele­phone on Thurs­day. The search com­pany is fo­cussed on “draw­ing in lo­cal tal­ent and there’s no short­age of that in Ghana,” she said.

Ghana also en­joys rel­a­tive po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, James ex­plained. Mean­while, it’s neigh­bour Nige­ria — the con­ti­nent’s largest econ­omy which also pro­motes busi­ness cen­ter La­gos as a bur­geon­ing tech hub – is more prone to civil un­rest.

None­the­less, the choice may seem un­usual given that Ghana ranks 12th for Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa in the World Bank’s lat­est Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness in­dex. Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa – an­other of the con­ti­nent’s big economies – all come in the top five by com­par­i­son.

But, Ghana’s pro-busi­ness gov­ern­ment and en­tre­pre­neur­ial so­ci­ety may have con­trib­uted to its se­lec­tion. Peo­ple in Ghana share the “sense that you can dis­rupt some­thing and make a dif­fer­ence,” James said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zambia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.