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How Google and Microsoft are transforming Africa

2 Mins read

The emergence of anatomically modern humans took place in Africa. So, it begs the question: why is the continent of human origin so backward and underdeveloped? 

Well, the answer to that question is beyond the scope of this article. But what I can tell you is that, luckily, for Africa, its fate is changing. And we’ve got big tech corporations to thank for this development.

Let’s look at some of their major undertakings so far.

Google AI Lab

Science fiction movies and novels have narrowed down the scope of AI to some evil bot trying to take over the world. 

Meanwhile, in Africa, AI has emerged as a savior. All thanks to Google. Google has extended its artificial intelligence program by establishing an AI lab in Accra, Ghana. The lab aims to resolve the Africa-specific healthcare, agricultural and educational issues using advanced AI technology. The most notable impact of the lab is in the agriculture and education sector.For example, it’s now possible to diagnose the disease affecting a plant at the click of a picture. This application, based on TensorFlow, is a product of Google’s AI lab. Moreover, to help bridge the communication gap and promote education, the AI lab is enhancing Google Translates ability to pick over 2000 African dialects. 

Google for Startups Accelerator

Google for Startups Accelerator aims to support innovative startups in Africa. And form the year of its inception (2018) to 2020, it has worked with 47 startups from 17 African countries

By enrolling in this program, the startups are entitled to the following benefits:

  • Mentoring from Google’s network of industry experts 
  • Equity-free support
  • Training on product design and marketing
  • Early access to Google products 

Microsoft 4Afrika

Microsoft 4Afrika, a market development engine, was launched in 2013 to invest in Africa’s talent. 

Through its 75 million USD, Microsoft aims to educate the young ones, engage in Africa’s economic development, improve internet accessibility, and assist SMEs and startups in developing new Africentric technologies. 

Some of its key achievements are:

  • Training 1.6 million people across the continent, including the 2,455 graduates from 28 skills labs. 
  • Supporting 1.7 million SMEs and recruiting over 60 new startups. 
  • Development of agri-tech solutions for farmers. 
  • Improving the accessibility of healthcare using mobile technology. 

Microsoft Africa Development Centre

Microsoft’s ADC is its first-ever engineering office in Africa. It’s a US $100 million project, which aims to innovate AI and machine learning. The sectors benefitting from these innovations are healthcare, agriculture, and finance.

It’s different from the rest of the investments in Africa. Because it involves recruiting over 500 local engineers, developing locally, and scaling for global impact. 

Microsoft Africa Research Institute (MARI) 

Keeping in mind that Africa is both a land of opportunities and challenges, Microsoft launched MARI to address them. 

MARI is an institute based in Kenya. A platform to bring leading researchers, designers, and engineers together to find ways for the practical implications of the research in solving Africa’s problems.

Bottomline

Africa is leapfrogging. It is bypassing the stages of technological development. Best example? Direct penetration of the wireless technology, with no fixed line tech in between. Of course, the tech giants are playing a crucial role in shaping the bright future of this continent. And provided that the growth increases with the same or even increased pace, African nations will soon come forth as developed nations of the world.

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