2021 winner Tony Mipawa shares why you should join Zindi for UmojaHack Africa 2022, Africa’s largest inter-university machine learning hackathon
UmojaHack Africa is Africa’s largest inter-university machine learning hackathon, taking place this year 19–20 March 2022 at universities all over the continent. Students of all levels are invited to take part in a weekend of learning and fun, connect with each other and with career opportunities in data science, and stand a chance to win $10 000 USD in prizes.
Every year, thousands of students across Africa gather on Zindi for the annual UmojaHack Africa event. Each year there are three kinds of competitions, for three level of understanding in the data science field:
- Beginner challenge: this challenge is specially for data enthusiast students with less than 1 year of experience in data science. You can even join with no experience at all!
- Intermediate challenge: This challenge is specially for data enthusiast students with 1–2 years of experience in data science and machine learning.
- Advanced challenge: This challenge is specially for data enthusiast students with 2+ years of experience in data science and machine learning.
I have participated in UmojaHack Africa for the last two years, and placed second in the UmojaHack Africa 2021 intermediate challenge. In that time it has been so helpful to my data science career, and there are lots of benefits and opportunities for all African students; especially those like me who want to grow their career in data science.
At this point you may be asking:
- Why should I join UmojaHack Africa?
- Can I earn anything?
- Can I improve my career or my data science knowledge?
- What are the opportunities for me in this hackathon?
Let’s dive into the benefits of UmojaHack Africa for African data enthusiast students and future AI and machine learning engineers:
1. Financial prizes for winners in every country
For both competing students and the universities who are students, there is a chance to win different kinds of monetary prizes. This attracts many students and universities to join UmojaHack Africa. At UmojaHack Africa 2022, Zindi will award more than $10 000 USD in prizes to winners of the hackathon as well as the top-performing team or individual from each country.
Another great kind of prize is access to different online paid data science and machine learning courses such as NVIDIA courses, LinkedIn Learning, and Microsoft certified exams. These courses can help you grow in a data science career by understanding the field better with help of technical and interactive courses.
2. Exposure to different student-related programs and companies
Through sponsors and the companies providing data for the challenges, you can learn about different potential programs targeting student data scientists. For instance, at UmojaHack Africa 2021, sponsors Standard Bank invited the top 3 teams from each challenge to a career day to meet recruiters and learn about the Graduate Programme offered by Standard Bank across African Branches (more information about the programme here, and on the official site here). Most of these opportunities were explained on live YouTube streams during the day UmojaHack Africa launched. You can visit the Zindi YouTube channel here.
3. Exposure to work on real-world data and machine learning problems
By joining UmojaHack Africa, you can use your prior knowledge of data science to solve real-world African problems. This is a great chance for students to learn how machine learning can be used to solve real-world challenges.
Students get exposed to real data sets rooted in the African context. Last year, those challenges included the Sendy Delivery Rider Response Challenge, whose objective was to build a machine learning model that will predict whether a delivery rider will accept, decline, or ignore an order sent to them.
You can read more about this year’s challenges and find practice challenges on the UmojaHack Africa website.
4. Build your professional profile
Experience in delivering tasks and projects to a high quality standard can’t be acquired blindly or easily, especially in the field of data science. Through competition at UmojaHack Africa (and other challenges hosted on Zindi) students can improve their practical skills and get a chance to build their professional journey towards a data science career.
Students can add this experience to their resumes or portfolios among their accomplished tasks, and you can even use your profile on Zindi as a data science CV
This helps students to better prepare for what is happening in the industry, and further their desired careers in data.
5. Improve your data science and machine learning skills
By joining UmojaHack Africa, students are likely to improve their data science and machine learning skills; things like quick and structured decision making, good coding skills, data analysis skills, experimentation, and finding the one approach that will get you to the top of the leaderboard.
After the close of UmojaHack Africa and other Zindi competitions, winners tend to share their winning solutions and tricks that can help to expand your data science and Machine learning knowledge and learn new things.
6. Connection and remote job opportunities
At UmojaHack Arica 2022, you will get a chance to connect with other students from different countries and universities all around Africa. This can foster collaboration, and encourage sharing of knowledge and great teamwork.
For those students that perform well during UmojaHack Africa, you are likely to get exposure to internships and job opportunities, from either sponsors, partners, or other individuals in the audience. In addition, the top 50+ students in each competition will be invited to a Zindi career day with event sponsors and partners.
7. Inspirational and fun
Apart from gaining knowledge and experience, machine learning hackathons are a lot of fun, and have many enjoyable moments as you work together against the clock to build a great model.
This directly inspires students and universities to build AI communities and clubs within their campuses, so that they can facilitate as many students as possible to start their journey in machine learning and data science.
By completing UmojaHack Africa 2022, Zindi awards all participants with a participation certificate, which will indicate their performance on the hackathon leaderboard and the purpose of that challenge.
In mastering data science and machine learning, there is no single golden thread that will ensure success. Practising on different challenges such as hackathons and competitions can help you to gain experience of working with data, and to achieve your career goals. This is an important step on your data science journey!