I was not wrong, a lot of what Google does is to push the boundaries of human knowledge through research and discovery.
It is that curiosity that has led them to create some of the most widely used technology platforms in the world today and also made them the custodian of most of the data about almost anything in the world.
Google has also now declared itself an "Artificial Intelligence first," company and that statement is potentially going to change everything we know fundamentally. It will almost certainly change how we live.
This change will also resonate for us in Africa; Google just recently announced that Africa is getting a Google Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and that is just the beginning. The lab will be run by Moustapha Cisse,
a Senegalese AI champion and expert.
Why is Africa Dark?
It was 2010 at the annual GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and Eric Schmidt
the former CEO and Chairman of Google was presenting his keynote where he was proudly talking of the growth of Android, Google's new mobile operating system at that time.
He had a slide on the screen with lights showing the level of Android activations globally, but on that slide Africa was dark. Someone in the audience asked; "Why is Africa dark?"
Someone else repeated a similar question at another presentation during Google's annual developer event in San Francisco in 2013. The presenter was talking about Google's Cloud Platform, and once again there was a global map where Africa was blank.
The question also came up -- "What happened to Africa?"
Google didn't seem to have any activity in Africa from both maps, but the illustrations were wrong. They were already active in Africa, but they decided to take a different route.
Google opted to strengthen the educational institutions by providing infrastructure and software, then from those institutions build technology communities which have now come of age.
There are hardly any young software developers you would meet in any of the major African countries who have not been part of or somewhat influenced by Google's university-based Developer Groups.
At the Barcelona keynote, someone also asked Eric Schmidt a question about plans for Africa and especially Nigeria?
With surprising accuracy for the CEO of a global technology company, he highlighted the issues with infrastructure and last-mile connectivity hampering growth and expansion of Internet technology into Africa.
Google was not ignoring Africa; they were trying to figure out a solution.
The solution has now come in many forms; massive infrastructure projects, digital skills training for millions, investments into the African startup ecosystem and most recently the announcement of an Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Accra, Ghana.