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ECA launches first AI research center in Africa

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the government of Congo have launched a center devoted exclusively to advancing research and growth through artificial intelligence (AI).

The African Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence (ARCAI), which was inaugurated on 24 February, is the first AI research center on the continent.

ARCAI aims to provide technology education and skills to stimulate job creation, bridge the digital divide, enhance inclusive economic growth, and establish Africa’s ownership of modern digital tools. It will also boost research and growth in areas such as digital policy, infrastructure, and finance.

Prime minister Anatole Collinet Makosso expressed immense gratitude to UNECA for choosing the Republic of Congo and said ARCAI was “the result of a productive collaboration between the ECA and the government of Congo”.

He lauded UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the ECA, Vera Songwe, for her leadership in ensuring that the project comes to fruition. Songwe said the establishment of the AI centre is a critical step in advancing innovation and job creation in Africa.

“With Agenda 2063 as the blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future. The AI Centre is a new dynamic to Africa’s participation in the global value chain. With global companies choosing to locate in regional hubs there’s potential for businesses investing in the AI Centre’s ecosystems to benefit from strong government support, low business costs, and access to world-class AI clusters,” a UNECA release stated.

It notes that the AI Center, which is funded by the ECA and other donor partners, has a clear vision of working with multiple stakeholders to establish a collaborative environment between industry, institutions, government, public and private sectors.

“The working pillars of the centre strategically include various engagement areas – the provision of state-of-the-art AI research facilities, collaboration with top ranked universities in Africa, building a network of highly skilled researchers and providing support and training to support citizens in becoming scholars, researchers, leaders and engaged citizens required to deliver digital transformation in our society,” it added.

The center will also offer Master of Science (MSc) programs in artificial intelligence and data science.



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