Less than a year after it announced plans to open an AI centre in Africa, Google has officially done so in Accra, Ghana and appointed Moustapha Cisse to head up the operation.
Cisse said Google AI Accra will focus on the application of AI to diagnose certain crop diseases, to analyse satellite images to inform policies and capitalise on the potential use cases in education, among others.
He said, "Simply put, our goal is to advance the frontiers of this science so we expect to have scientific impact. We also expect collaborations with different institutions working on local challenges by applying the technology to agriculture, to health and to other areas where it can be useful beyond purely technical and foundational aspects of machine learning and AI."
The centre currently has experts from 12 countries and according to a statement released by the company: "The researchers of Google AI centre bring a fresh perspective and expertise to build new technologies in Africa that can contribute positively to life here, as well as around the globe."
In an initial announcement regarding the centre, posted in June 2018, Google stated its intention to collaborate with local universities and research centres, as well as with policy makers about AI's potential in Africa.
John Quinn, research scientist at Google AI Accra said based on his experience as an honorary associate professor in the Artificial Intelligence research group at Uganda's Makerere University, the success of Google AI Accra centre depends on its integration with society.
"We found that this really can only flourish when it's part of the community - universities, the government and local organisations. Hopefully we can bring people on board with people visiting. With the universities, there could be training opportunities, for example... so, it is early days, but we will make progress," said Quinn.