Ever wondered what goes into launching a data science competition?

If so, this post is for you. I spent the last few days working on the Fowl Escapades: Southern African Bird Call Audio Identification Challenge on Zindi, and thought it would be fun to take you behind the scenes a little to show how it all came together.

Step 1: Inspiration

Many competitions spring from an existing problem in need of a solution. For example, you may want a way to predict when your delivery will arrive based on weather, traffic conditions and the route your driver will take. In cases like this…


“In Sudan I want people and the government to focus their attention on data science. We have data that can be digitised and used for predictions and to solve problems. Companies should put their community service money into data science education, in order to help prepare countries like Sudan for a technological future.”

Reem Elmahdi is Zindi’s country ambassador for Sudan, who champions data science in her country through teaching, networking and event planning.

Her journey so far

“I learned to love data science during my Masters degree, because it was quite challenging and different.”

She began her career in the field by studying…


A collaboration between Zindi, Amazon Web Services and the South African National Space Agency has yielded a machine learning model that can identify informal settlements from satellite imagery. This tool will help the South African government with planning, providing essential services, and preventing crime in underserved communities across the country.

The image on the left shows the type of satellite data used in the competition; the image on the right shows the models’ pediction of informal settlements (blue). Image credit: Zindi.

“The idea was to get data scientists to work on a potential solution that SANSA could use to optimise our mapping processes,” says Managing Director of Earth Observations at SANSA, Andiswa Mlisa. This model will assist SANSA in mapping of informal settlements, a task that SANSA currently undertakes manually.

Employing the experts

In…


“It’s clear to see from other successful women in data science that you can come from Africa and create a huge impact while giving back to your community by sharing your story.”

Rose Delilah Gesicho is country ambassador for Zindi in Kenya, and she says she draws inspiration from a number of successful female data scientists in her network.

“Beyond the Zindi community, I look up to and follow notable women I have met through various volunteer and community roles, such as being a Program Coordinator for Nairobi Women in Machine Learning and Data Science (WiMLDS) and Learning Programme Manager…


Aspiring data science students work on UmojaHack Africa 2021 problems at their universities across Africa.

UmojaHack Africa 2021 was an unprecedented success, bringing more than 1000 students from 126 universities across Africa to compete on Zindi in a virtual machine learning hackathon on the weekend of 27–28 March. More than $10 000 USD in prizes were awarded to data science students from 9 African countries, and more than 8500 submissions were made to solve three real-world machine learning challenges on Zindi.

Students from 21 African countries joined the event, representing Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

They…


Davis David represents Zindi at a dLab event.
Davis David represents Zindi at a dLab event.
Davis David represents Zindi at a dLab event.

Davis David is one of Zindi’s first ambassadors, representing Zindi in Tanzania since June 2019. He is the CEO of ParrotAI, helps run the Deep Learning IndabaX event in Tanzania, is a member of AI Exponential Thinker, and even manages to find time to write articles for Analytics Vidya and the Zindi blog.

“The best part of being a Zindi Ambassador is the spirit of teamwork from Zindi management and our ambassadors across Africa,” he says.

“Working with Zindi has motivated me to be more active and work harder to make sure my fellow data science and machine learning practitioners…


“I joined Zindi and became an ambassador because I loved the idea that we would have an African platform for data science competition. My main goal was to build and support the African community of data science.”

Mohamed Salem Jedidi is one of Zindi’s first and most accomplished users, and part of our first group of ambassadors. He consistently performs well in Zindi challenges and has won several, including the Traffic Jam challenge, Zindi’s largest prized competition to date. He is currently ranked #2 on Zindi’s leaderboard.

“Data science competitions are like a race, and you should be proud of…


“Zindi and Local Ocean Conservation (LOC) share the belief that we live in an interconnected world filled with talent; in our case the talent and technical expertise we needed was not in house. A Zindi campaign enables us to get solutions we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to get,” says Justin Beswick, CEO of Kenyan conservation organisation Local Ocean Conservation. “It’s really valuable to step out of the conservation space and tap into other industries, sectors and skills, such as Zindi’s data science community.”

LOC is a small organisation based in Watamu, Kenya that has been protecting and rehabilitating turtles…


“It is really gratifying for us at SAEON to be able to pull this kind of thing together using government-based data sources; it shows us what’s possible. We spend so much time and money working on climate change with government and non-government partners, but no one has done anything like this before.”

Dr Amelia Hilgart is talking about the recently-published African air quality dataset developed in partnership with Zindi, created using a model developed by Zindi users as part of a 60-hour hackathon earlier this year. …


“We asked Zindi to give us a way to predict when a customer would ‘churn’ or leave as a paying customer,” says Zimnat’s Chief Digital Officer, Oswin Zulu. “We built the winning models into a dashboard with a customer profile and the likelihood of them leaving the business, and that dashboard is now given to our customer care agents.”

The Zimnat Insurance Assurance Challenge on Zindi attracted just under 300 Zindi users from all over the world, and in 60 hours in May produced winning solutions from users in Nigeria, Tunisia and India. …

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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