Google opens first Africa AI lab in Ghana, to tackle continent’s challenges

Google opens first Africa AI lab in Ghana, to tackle continent’s challenges
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15 Apr, 2019

Search engine giant Google has opened its first African artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory in Ghana's capital city Accra, to take on challenges across the continent, said multiple reports.

The lab has been set up with the aim to address economic, political and environmental issues.

Google's head of AI Accra, Moustapha Cisse, told French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), “Africa has many challenges where the use of AI could be beneficial, sometimes even more than in other places.”

The new lab would use AI to develop solutions in healthcare, education and agriculture -- like helping to diagnose certain types of crop disease, Cisse added.

Google has opened similar research centres in various cities around the world including Tokyo, Zurich, New York and Paris.

Cisse is hopeful that specialist engineers and AI researchers will collaborate with local organisations and policymakers.

He added that Google is working with universities and startups in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa to boost AI development regionally.

Google is going big on AI.

Last week, it released a suite of seven new retail solutions suffused in AI and data analytics, which consists of visual product search, Recommendations AI, contact centre AI, AutoML Tables, e-commerce hosting, real-time inventory management and analytics, and empowered associates.

Using AI, AutoML Tables, which is in beta mode, can help retailers better predict demand, thus enabling them to fill portfolio gaps in advance, among other things. This AutoML Tables does by building machine learning models on structured data, and reducing the total time for modelling from weeks to a few days.

Other AI-enabled solutions among the seven released tools are vision product search and Recommendations AI.

Besides the seven new retail tools, Google unveiled Document Understanding AI solution, in beta, which can classify and extract data within scanned or digital documents. The company said that it easily integrates with third-party technology stacks. “Google Cloud's Document Understanding AI helps us identify form fields, text passage, tables and graphs, as well as customer-specific keyword matching, for customised workloads,” said Jim O’Dorisio, senior vice-president for emerging commercial solutions, Iron Mountain, which is a US data management company.