Muhamed Tuo believes AI integration will transform African agriculture and healthcare
“I think it’s the future, using AI in agriculture and healthcare. Most African economies rely on agriculture. So, being able to forecast yield better and manage water usage can help our continent grow to have a stronger and more stable economy.”
Muhamed Tuo is a data scientist from Cote d’Ivoire, who moved to France as an ambitious young man. He has a Bachelor in Mathematics and Computer Science, from the Université Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC). Upon completing his first degree, he decided to chase his new-found interest and completed a Master’s in Artificial Intelligence and Big Data from ESGI, Paris. Currently, he works as a data scientist for business travel management solution Ayruu.
Journey into data science
Muhamed’s journey into data science is perhaps a typical story — he unintentionally stumbled into his career path and grew to excellence. As a freshman in school, his sole dream was to study and become a software engineer until his ever-curious friend discovered AI and data science and introduced him to the field — the same friend who also introduced him to Zindi.
“When I learned about Zindi, I still didn’t know much about data science, so I learned data science with Zindi through competitions. In addition, I went through online courses to learn on my own. I joined my first competition back in 2019. At that time, it was hard to really try to master things.”
Taking on competitions as they come
“I knew nothing about machine learning algorithms. So, I had to find out the best algorithm to use for the problem and how each of them really works. I was also researching how to improve my models. Slowly, I started climbing up,” he says. “That was thrilling, and the thrill made me push even harder.”
Muhamed has consistently participated — and continues to participate — in many competitions since joining the platform, and has ranked second or third in competitions many times. “It’s still one of my goals to rank #1, someday,” he shares enthusiastically. For Muhamed, being passionate about data science stems from the deep satisfaction he gets from being able to create an intelligent machine from just data.
“That you can create something smart, intelligent, and meaningful that interacts and reasons like a human, that’s what fascinates me most about data science.”
Two of the sectors he particularly enjoys working on are healthcare and agriculture; this is because of the poor healthcare systems in many African countries, especially Cote d’Ivoire. Muhamed believes artificial intelligence could be democratised to transform the healthcare sector, and ultimately save many lives in African villages and cities.
“Most African countries’ GDP relies on agriculture,” Muhamed explains. “Being able to forecast yield better and manage water usage can help our country grow, and have a better economy and stability.”
In the future, he’s looking to work on more projects focused on the healthcare and agriculture sectors in Africa.
Learning and building the community
“My favourite thing about Zindi is the size of datasets it provides. Sometimes, the size of a dataset available for a project is so small. And it becomes hard to get meaningful models when you don’t have sufficient datasets. That’s one thing I loved when I joined the Zindi competition — the size of datasets is great.”
At the moment, Muhamed is working on an unconventional machine-learning project about drones, as he likes to build things from the ground up. As a hobby, he enjoys working with electronics and is currently building an autonomous drone that can go from point A to point B using sensors and machine learning model algorithms.
“I can say a lot of the things I know today are because of Zindi. Zindi helped me learn a lot because I really liked the idea of competing with people and having to climb the leaderboard and fight to keep my place. It makes you stick to learning as you try competing for more.”
While sharing his learning journey, he also encourages other Zindians and aspiring data scientists to always stick to learning by joining competitions. And as part of his goals to give back to society, Muhamed, with a group of others, has been making efforts to revive the data science community in his home county, Cote d’Ivoire, and inspire people to make it stronger and more resourceful.