Skip to main content
Africa Blog


How we’re supporting 14 new AI for Social Good projects in Sub Saharan Africa

Over recent years, we have seen remarkable progress in AI’s ability to confront new problems and help solve old ones. Google has supported various initiatives to support AI research in Sub Saharan Africa by establishing a Google AI research center in Accra, Ghana, supporting Google Africa Ph.D Fellowships and funding the development of an African Master’s in Machine Intelligence at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences. We’ve seen this work have significant impact, from the strong progress of Google AI Impact Challenge grantee Makerere University’s air quality monitoring technology to Google Accra lab’s CropNet, an AI model for cassava disease detection.

This is a photo of the Makerere University’s air quality monitoring technology team

In our continued commitment to advance AI to address pressing problems in Sub Saharan Africa, we are happy to announce fourteen new projects supported through our AI for Social Good program.

Our lab in India has worked towards advancing AI research that could make a positive social impact on traditionally underserved communities. We reported on the impact of six such projects in India in 2020. We are seeing tremendous potential to positively impact lives through collaborations between NGOs and Academics, supported and enabled by Google.

Working in partnership with and Google’s University Relations program, our goal is to help academics and nonprofits advance AI research that can improve people’s lives and environmental health in Sub Saharan Africa.

As part of the application process, Googlers ran meetings involving Academic and NGO teams to discuss potential projects. Following the workshop meetings, project teams made up of NGOs and academics submitted proposals which Google experts reviewed. The result is an extremely promising range of projects spanning 10 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa including Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Ghana — focused on agriculture, conservation and public health.

Each project team will receive funding, technical contributions from Google, access to computational resources and other forms of regular support to make their projects successful. Academics in this program will be recognized as “Impact Scholars” for their contributions towards advancing research for social good.

In Agriculture, this includes AI research for pastoralists to manage their rangelands and pastures more efficiently to automating local market advisory for farmers. In Conservation, we are backing projects that research news ways towards animal poaching monitoring and predict the risk of deforestation. In Public Health, we are supporting research to improve vaccine allocation and improve maternal health programs through engagement on health information programs.

Congratulations to all the recipients of this round’s support. We’re looking forward to continuing to nurture the AI for Social Good community, bringing together experts from diverse backgrounds with the common goal of advancing AI to improve lives around the world.