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“Winning the Mtoto News challenge was a great motivation. It boosted my confidence and encouraged me to work harder. I went back to old courses, paying attention to every part, especially the mathematics.”

Lawrence Moruye’s data science journey is, in a lot of ways, the story of Zindi. He was in second year when he realised that data science was a promising career for someone like him, looking to combine a passion for mathematics and computer science. Just a few months later, Alfred Ongere of AI Kenya invited him to the Nairobi hackathon that launched the Zindi platform.

First steps

“At the time of the hackathon, I had some data science basics, but I felt that my skills were not good enough so I didn’t participate on the weekend,” says Lawrence. “But the competition stayed open for a few months after the hackathon, so I went away, sharpened my skills and made my first submission on…


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On Saturday 22 March 2020, Zindi hosted the first ever pan-African inter-university hackathon, UmojaHack Africa. This groundbreaking event took place in extraordinary circumstances with the world in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nonetheless and in spite of escalating university closures as governments introduced safety precautions to counter the pandemic, students from 70 universities in 15 African countries competed for cash prizes, and seized the opportunity to collaborate and hone their machine learning skills.

The day kicked off with a brief address from Celina Lee, CEO of Zindi, as she welcomed the participants and sponsors to the event. Paul Kennedy, Zindi’s Community Coordinator, then followed with a recap of the competition rules. As each of the hackathon challenges was a machine learning problem, one of Zindi’s resident data scientists, Jonathan “Johno” Whitaker, took a few minutes to explain the background to each competition. …


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Have you ever met one of those people who seem to do everything well? Our Senegalese ambassador Thierno Diop is one of those people.

He’s a popular figure in data science circles in francophone West Africa, and quietly and humbly leads the AI and machine learning movement in Senegal and beyond through his passion and hard work. As well as representing Zindi in West Africa since 2019, he is a full-time machine learning engineer at Baamtu, consults at other organisations, and runs GalsenAI, a Senegalese AI community with more than 700 members that he co-founded last year.

Thierno’s specialty is in natural language processing (NLP), but he has a wide range of ML techniques at his disposal and he’s always willing to help others learn. He sees the potential that ML techniques like NLP have to transform Africa’s economies. …


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“The Zindi Mentorship Programme was a journey worth taking; I’ve really learned a lot that I can put in practice. My group helped me understand the power of working together; we enjoyed it and ended up on the top of the leaderboard together.” — John Godday, Nigeria

John Godday is one of 18 junior data scientists selected for Zindi’s first ever Mentorship Programme, which ran in July and August this year. Along with his teammates Anthony Mipawa (Tanzania) and Njeri Maina (Kenya), he learned the basics of practical data science from his mentor Lawrence Moruye (Zindi Ambassador and senior data scientist on the platform) through group sessions, webinars and practical data science challenges. …


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The 2nd-place winners of Zindi’s recent AirQo Ugandan Air Quality Forecast Challenge took their data science journey to the next level recently by joining the project team to implement their machine learning solutions to improve air quality monitoring inKampala, Uganda.

“Machine learning competitions give you the rush to try out new ideas, racing against time and the leaderboard,” Nikhil Kumar Mishra says with a smile. “I am passionate about everything data science.”

His teammate, Darius Moruri, cannot hide the excitement in his voice when talking about AI. …


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Perched high above the waves, offshore rigs are proverbial hives of frenetic activity. Drilling, evaluation and well completion work is carried out around the clock. But oil rigs are also rather like circuses, with a dizzying roster of specialist acts needed at various times in the life of a well. These range from mud-spattered geologists and white-aproned cooks, to burly drillers and their crews of roughnecks.

The oilfield engineer is arguably the oil rig’s star attraction. These highly trained engineers send sophisticated tools thousands of metres into the well bore, and gather data that determines if the well is viable and should be developed, or dry and should be abandoned. …


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Do you ever wonder what makes a successful data scientist? You might have guessed at a few things, like technical skills, problem solving skills, and creativity in approaching problems.What if I told you that science says otherwise?

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck argues that the best predictor of success is your mindset. Those who aspire to be successful believe that they can grow and improve as individuals.This mindset is commonly known as the growth mindset.

The good news is, there are some simple practices you can adopt in your data science journey that will help you maintain a growth mindset.

1. Viewing challenges as opportunities

Joining the Zindi platform is your first step in the right direction.This means you are relishing opportunities for self improvement. As you take part in the challenges in the platform, view each of them as a learning opportunity and ensure you gain three times the knowledge you joined the competition with. …


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Finding just the right data scientist can be a tricky business, especially in many parts of Africa where formal data science qualifications are not commonplace. So when Charlie Harrison of AI for Impact needed a data scientist to implement a COVID relief project in the DRC, he turned to Zindi.

“We wanted a data scientist on the ground, someone who could write the code, analyse data, and turn aggregated mobile data into insights for COVID-related decision-making on the ground. Finding someone with the right expertise was a challenge, but Zindi were able to help us.”

Making an impact in the DRC

AI for Impact is a project of the GSM Association, an industry body representing more than 750 mobile operators around the globe. AI for Impact aims to accelerate the impact of the mobile industry on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in developing countries. It does this by leveraging mobile operators as data custodians in developing countries, and putting that data to use to respond to natural disasters, measure human displacement, and predict and monitor the spread of epidemics. In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, AI for Impact is helping build and implement a national pandemic response system in the DRC. …


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When AI researcher and language lover Dr Amelia Taylor first moved to Malawi, she soon began learning Chichewa, Malawi’s indigenous official language. She found that there were few resources for teaching Chichewa that covered pronunciation and grammar, or made use of sound and video.

“I’m not a Chichewa speaker,” Taylor explains. “So one of the first things I did when I moved to Malawi was to learn about the language and the culture. As my husband and I were learning the language, we started to develop a course based on our learning experience.”

As part of tNyasa Ltd, she and her husband developed a Chichewa course together with Paul, their Chichewa teacher. …


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“How do you move from where you are now to being exceptional? Data science has been promoted as the sexiest job of the 21st century, but nobody tells you how tough the journey might be.”

Mark Okello knows a thing or two about the journey to being exceptional. In just a few years, he has gone from an interest in data to a leading role in Uganda’s growing data science community. He has co-founded a public health company improving TB (and recently COVID-19) diagnostics in Uganda and South Sudan, works with several international development organisations, and helps run the Kampala R User Group, the biggest data science group in Uganda. …

About

Zindi

Zindi is a competition platform hosting a community of data scientists dedicated to solving Africa’s toughest challenges through machine learning & AI

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