UmojaHack Africa 2022 winners make an impact at AirQo as data science interns

4 min readJul 21, 2022


Zindi and AirQo have built on their long-standing relationship, with the winners of UmojaHack Africa 2022: Faulty Air Quality Sensor Challenge joining AirQo as interns to help put their winning models into practice.

AirQo is a research initiative based at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. AirQo uses AI to improve the performance of air quality monitors, build additional functionalities to enhance air quality monitoring, and obtain insights from air quality sensor data. The insights are then used to raise awareness on public health issues around air quality and inform policy making.

Priscilla Adong, Data scientist and internship programme team lead at AirQo, was impressed by the eagerness of the Zindi interns and their interest in learning.

“Zindi interns are eager to learn and expressed a lot of interest in learning different technologies,” says Adong. “They were easy to work with and added value to the team immediately.”

Priscilla further urged companies to seek Zindians as interns, as they are well-equipped with essential skills and they need opportunities to develop real-world experience.

“Zindians are passionate and hardworking people, and they have strong basic machine learning skills. They might be new to some technologies, but they are willing to learn. It is upon us, as African companies, to offer them real-world experience and build African capacity for data science.”

She also offered advice to Zindians seeking internships, emphasising the need for soft skills in the workplace.

“Technical skills can always be learned, but to get far in your career, you need communication skills, teamwork, presentation skills, and self-drive,” she says.

The internship experience, in their own words

Four Zindi winners joined AirQo for a two-month internship, from May to June 2022. Paul Okewunmi, Afolabi Maryam and Olufemi Victor Tolulope, all from Nigeria, share their experiences and their learnings.

Olufemi Victor Tolulope

I am a student at the Obafemi Awolowo University, where I study Electronic and Electrical Engineering.

My experience interning at AirQo was great! It was an opportunity for me to deploy models built with my team for #UmojaHackAfrica2022. I learned a lot about deploying these machine learning models in the real world, and the constraints involved. Aside from learning new ML and AI skills, I also had a great time learning about climate change and air pollution, and how AirQo is building solutions to tackle this challenge. I also attended physical summits and webinars with the AirQo team.

It was truly awesome to learn how to use the MongoDB database in building a machine learning pipeline and deploying ML models with Flask through an API. I also learned soft skills like teamwork and accountability.

My advice to Zindians is to stay focused, stay curious, and reach for the stars!

Afolabi Maryam

I am a veterinary student, currently in my third year at the University of Abuja.

My experience was interesting and educational: I learnt how to deploy a machine learning model. I gained a lot of knowledge in MongoDB, Flask API, and ReactJs, I also learnt the true concept of teamwork.

My advice to all Zindians is to keep trying, and have faith in yourself!

Paul Okewunmi

I am an Electrical and Electronics undergraduate at the Obafemi Awolowo University, and I also lead the DSN OAU campus community.

It was an exciting experience, and our team lead Priscilla did an amazing job. It feels good to know that our model is going to help detect faulty air quality sensors across Uganda. I’ve learnt a lot, and I was actively involved in the full life-cycle of deploying a model into production. I also learned how to use a non-relational database like MongoDB.

My advice to Zindians is to keep being consistent, you can never tell when the right opportunity will present itself!

Do you have a recruitment need? Zindi has over 45,000 data scientists who are ready for real-world experience. Get in touch with us for more information.




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