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.
“I want to see communities using AI to solve local problems; like using local languages such as Wolof in Senegal, so that there will be no barriers for people that cannot read or speak English or French, and they can use digital applications like everyone else.”
“The best part of being a Zindi Ambassador is the chance to help a platform that is growing and leveraging AI in Africa,” he says. “It is a great feeling knowing that many people across Africa are trying to do the same as I am, helping others to get involved and show that data science is not too difficult if you work hard and have patience.”
“I want to see many more Senegalese and West African people participate in Zindi competitions this year. I hope we will also see more companies in West Africa trying to leverage AI to solve problems and help their business. We don’t have that now but it will come, I think.”
Thierno has big plans for this year, including running events and putting out all kinds of new content:
“In 2020, I’m hoping to publish more GalsenAI videos to share tips and techniques in ML, and I will help organise the Zindi UmojaHack Senegal inter-university hackathon and IndabaX Senegal events later in the year.”
GalsenAI also just released their first podcast episode, Comment bien démarrer en intélligence artificielle? (‘How to get started in AI’), which you can listen to here (it’s in French).
At Zindi, we salute the hard work that Thierno and his fellow West African ambassadors are doing to create and grow the AI movement in their region. They have our support and our gratitude for everything they do.
Originally published 7 May 2020 at https://zindi.africa.