ACCRA: US tech giant Google plans to open an artificial intelligence (AI) research centre in Accra, the capital of Ghana, to explore the potential uses of the emerging technology in Africa.

It is expected to open later this year and will bring together top machine learning researchers and engineers who are dedicated to AI research and its applications, the company announced in a blog post.

Jeff Dean, a senior fellow at Google AI, and Moustapha Cisse, who will head up Google’s new research hub, explained that Google will work with local universities, research institutions and policy makers on developing AI for the African market.

“We’re excited to combine our research interests in AI and machine learning and our experience in Africa to push the boundaries of AI while solving challenges in areas such as healthcare, agriculture, and education,” they wrote.

“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,” they added.

Google has been operating in Africa for ten years, but this is the first time it has invested in a research centre on the continent, which will join a growing network of AI-focused locations, such as Paris, Tokyo, Beijing, Tel Aviv, New York and Google’s own Silicon Valley headquarters.

It also comes a month after Facebook opened its first technology hub in Africa, which is based in Lagos and aims to train 50,000 young Nigerians in digital skills.

Google also operates a digital skills training programme and, according to Dean and Cisse in their post, two million people have completed the course already while, ultimately, ten million Africans will benefit.

In addition, Google runs a separate initiative, called Launchpad Accelerator Africa, that it says supports 100,000 developers and more than 60 technology start-ups.

Sourced from Google, Guardian; additional content by WARC staff