AI research center goes operational in Brazzaville

Prime minister Anatole Collinet Makosso of the Republic of Congo has expressed “immense gratitude” to the leadership of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) for choice of Congo to host the first-ever African Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence (ARCAI).

In his remarks during the inauguration of the center on 24 February in Brazzaville, Mr Makosso 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.

“Thank you for believing in us,” said the PM, noting that AI is changing millions of lives and fast becoming an indispensable part of economic growth across the globe. Mr Makosso underscored that the artificial intelligence (AI) center was a significant step in line with President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s vision to promote innovation and the digital economy.

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

Ms. Songwe thanked the government of Congo for the seamless collaboration that facilitated the establishment of the AI center, which she described as a critical step in advancing innovation and job creation in Africa. She noted , however, that there’s urgent need for the government to provide fast, affordable, and reliable broadband internet to facilitate the much-needed digital transformation.

ARCAI’s working pillars include 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 training to support citizens in becoming scholars, researchers, and leaders that can deliver digital transformation in our society. The center will also offer Master of Science (MSc) programs in artificial intelligence and data science.

The establishment of this Artificial Intelligence Regional Center, the very first in Africa, makes the Republic of Congo a major regional hub for the development of emerging technologies in the region.