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What Does Facebook’s Second Operational Office In Africa Mean For Advancement In AI?

In line with its continued efforts to support the sub-Saharan Africa region and the African continent at large, Facebook recently announced its plans to open a new office in Lagos, Nigeria. This ultra-modern office will be Facebook’s second workspace in Africa after the global tech company opened its first office five years ago in Johannesburg, South Africa.

According to Facebook, the Nigerian office is expected to commence operations in the second half of 2021 and will recruit a team of seasoned experts in engineering, sales, communications, partnerships, and policy to help build the future of technology in Africa and beyond.

Ime Archibong, Facebook’s head of new product experimentation said that the tech behemoth is bringing exciting new opportunities in digital innovation to the country. “The opening of our new office in Lagos, Nigeria presents new and exciting opportunities in digital innovations to be developed from the continent and taken to the rest of the world,” he said. The goal for Facebook by harnessing more local talents is to put Africans at the helm of operations and build African-tailored products that will contribute to the growth of the continent’s rising tech industry.

Similarly, Facebook’s director of public policy for Africa, Kojo Boakye says that the new office in Nigeria further reinforces the company’s ongoing commitment of a globalized world which will be paramount in the Lagos office.

Since late 2013, Facebook has been passionate about pioneering the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) from fundamental and applied research to technology development with the introduction of Facebook AI Research (FAIR). FAIR has become central to Facebook and is now part of a larger Facebook AI organization that works on all aspects of AI research and development with research labs in Menlo Park, New York, Paris, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and London.

As progress in AI is not dependent on breakthrough ideas alone but also on having powerful platforms and tools for testing and then implementation, FAIR has prioritized building these systems and sharing them with the world. FAIR shares open-source frameworks, tools, libraries, and models for everything from AI research exploration to large-scale production deployment and make this information accessible to researchers and engineers globally.

In other to advance the state of AI research, FAIR focuses on fundamental questions about the keys to reasoning, prediction, planning, and unsupervised learning. Subsequently, FAIR and Facebook AI execute AI-related research in Human & Machine Intelligence, Natural Language Processing, Conversational AI, Image Processing, Computer Vision, Systems Research amongst others. These long-term research explorations are required to unlock the full potential of artificial intelligence in the nearest future.

Although Facebook’s new office in Nigeria is indicative of the company’s tech development plans for Africa, one cannot help but imagine if AI research is also part of the tech companies’ lineup for the African continent. Nevertheless, in other to extend its global AI advancement agenda, Facebook should consider leveraging on its new office in Nigeria to continue its vital role in AI research as this open collaboration will ultimately contribute to the improvement of the continent’s AI industry and drive its numerous economies.

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