The Google-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory, based in Accra, Ghana, invests in the use of technology to solve afro-centric problems.
This week, ITV toured the Acre Center for AI in order to see the progress made by researchers since last year's opening of the lab.
Google has similar facilities in Berlin, Paris, Beijing, New York and San Francisco, among others.
The team, comprised of researchers from different nationalities, is working on the construction of AI solutions to problems in the real world, including helping communities in Africa and beyond to improve their lives.
Global Internet companies descend on the African continent, using AI to improve their lives. Yesterday, ITWeb announced that the social network giant Facebook is mapping to the African continent using the power of AI.
Researchers in the center of Google AI in Accra give a new perspective and expertise in building new technologies in Africa that can positively contribute to life here as well as around the world.
Speaking during a visit to the Google AI Center in Accra, Moustapha Cisse, a research scientist and leader of the Google AI Center, said the giant's Internet search has witnessed increased interest in researching machine learning across the African continent.
According to Cisse, the center is dedicated to collaborating with local universities and research centers, as well as working with policymakers on the potential uses of AI in Africa.
Specific focal areas in the center include the use of AI to improve health care, analyze satellite imagery, improve device performance, and understand the natural languages.
"AI today is a critical tool – it's used in many different products, not just in Google," said Cisse. "We have already laid the foundations for some aspects of machine learning in this center. We want to deal with some important challenges that are critical to the African context."
He suggested that most of the work that is done today in AI is designed to be deployed on powerful machines.
"However, this is a problem in an area like Africa where most people carry devices such as smartphones with few resource constraints. So, if you want to improve accessibility to this technology, we need to design learning machines that are as much is as precise as possible so that we can deploy them to small devices like telephone phones.
"We also customize our products to make it easier for people to discover the best of the Internet, even on low-end smartphones or unstable network connections.
"The AQI Center in Aqra also uses AI to improve health care – not just to people's health but also to plants. This is sometimes a matter of food security, because in some regions you have diseases of cultures that can cause food safety problems. We have people working to improve the diagnosis of various diseases of crops. "
The center also uses AI to analyze advanced satellite images and this allows researchers to estimate population growth.
"Whenever possible, it can be used to help policymakers decide on issues like humanitarian scenarios to decide where to allocate resources."
Cisse also noted that Google is trying to use AI to translate thousands of African languages.
"There are about 300 languages in Europe, but there are more than 2,000 languages in Africa, making it one of the most diverse language differences in the world. It will be nice if people on this continent can communicate beyond language barriers.
"If we can have machines for learning hundreds of languages so we can understand these languages, it will be incredible. This will unlock many opportunities and provide more access to information," he said.
Thanks to AI and Machine Learning, Google's translation software understands more than 100 languages.