Google opened their first ever artificial intelligence centre in Accra, Ghana earlier this year and promised to support
100,000 developers and over 60 tech startups through the Launchpad Accelerator Africa.
The 12 startups in Google’s first Launchpad Accelerator Africa class are from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and
South Africa. The 11 startups from the second class of Google’s Launchpad Africa accelerator have created 253 jobs and
have raised over $12-million before and during the programme.
According Ventureburn.com, Fola Olatunji-David Google’s head of startup success and services revealed the companys AI plans at Google LaunchpadAccelerator Africa Alumni dinner held in Cape Town on Thursday 15th August, he said that the accelerator had started to experiment with AI as a core part of its programme focus in its third cohort. Meanwhile, the 12 startups from the accelerator’s third cohort, which was run in Lagos and Nairobi, have graduated. In a statement, Google said startups in the third class have raised close to $9-million in funding, created more than 120 jobs and their products and services have over 270 000 users. Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa’s fourth cohort will kick off in September 2019.
Olatunji-David pointed out that the accelerator’s alumni like SA insurtech Pineapple and Voyc.ai “are like core AI
companies”. “Now what we are doing is doubling down. We figured that look this AI thing kind of actually works, there
are interesting use cases.
Why the focus on AI?
So why is accelerator is shifting its focus on AI, and not other key verticals like healthtech or fintech?
Olatunji-David explained that AI is a representation of technology right now that “actually does everything for us”.
Google, he said, has seen that the best form of that synergy happens when smart thinking humans use the power of the
machine. “The reason why the unbanked can still get a loan is because an AI machine or system says oh this guy while he’s un-banked, he’s bought airtime worth XYZ, he has a farm, so we can quantify that.
“So AI is essentially just harnessing the power of technology, true data, which we have tonnes of, to either predict
people’s patterns and behaviour or to predict outcomes in terms of what a software should do in certain instances,” he
Launchpad Accelerator Africa was announced in July 2017 and will run until 2020, with two intakes of 10 to 12 startups
per year, representing an investment of $3-million in equity-free support, working space, and access to expert advisers
from Google, Silicon Valley, and Africa over the three years.
Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa currently takes applications from 17 African countries: Algeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.