Africa’s nascent artificial intelligence sector just got its biggest boost from Google which is opening its first Africa AI research center in Accra, Ghana’s capital. Though Accra has a vibrant tech industry, it would not have been the obvious location for many Africa tech watchers when compared with Nairobi or nearby Lagos where Google has already announced it would open its first Launchpad Space outside the US.

Last month, Facebook also opened its first startup hub in Africa there. Google had been laying the pipeline, both figuratively and physically, for future developments in Accra for a few years now.

Back in 2015, the Mountain View, California tech giant started work on a fiber optic network, called Project Link, across the city to improve internet speeds. Ghana also has good a font of young talent from its public universities and newer centers like the computer science program at the highly-regarded private institution, Ashesi University.

Even then, deciding on the location was a difficult decision, said Jeff Dean, team lead for Google Brain, under which its AI projects are housed. “In the end, we chose Accra because of a strong ecosystem of local universities and its proximity to a branch of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and our experience in the country,” said Dean on Twitter in response to Quartz’s questions.

“It is our hope that over time we can consider other research locations as well.” The company says it’s trying to bring together top machine learning researchers and engineers at the new center dedicated to AI research and its applications. Google is making a big bet on AI for its future. Read more from…

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