Zindi invites applications for Africa’s biggest university hackathon
Zindi Africa has partnered with African Bank and other stakeholders, to host UmojaHack Africa, the continent’s first Pan-African inter-university machine learning hackathon.
Zindi says it is the first online data science competition platform in Africa. It was launched in 2018, with the aim of providing an online medium for African data scientists to "convene, collaborate and compete" to solve the continent's most pressing challenges.
The company works with firms, non-profit organisations and government institutions to develop and host data-driven challenges.
Student teams at universities across Africa will compete online on 21 March, while honing their skills and developing machine learning solutions to complex real-world challenges.
The winning teams in each of the three machine learning challenges will win a share of $2 000, as well as a share of $15 000 for their university.
“At Zindi, our goal is to make AI [artificial intelligence] accessible to everyone,” says Celina Lee, CEO of Zindi.
“The UmojaHack is as much about upskilling students as it is about showcasing to the world the budding talent this continent has to offer. Ten universities from SA, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Algeria, Senegal, Ethiopia and Tanzania have already signed up for the challenge.”
Universities that will participate include the University of Cape Town (UCT), Carnegie Mellon University Africa, University of Ibadan, AIMS Senegal, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology.
“UCT is excited to be part of the first ever UmojaHack Africa,” says Sebnem Er, of UCT’s Department of Statistical Sciences. “We are looking forward to collaborating with Zindi to expose our students ‒ from undergraduate, honours and masters programmes such as data science and advanced analytics, as well as our doctoral degrees ‒ to real-world problems from Africa. Participating in this event is a brilliant opportunity for our students.”
Sponsors for the event include Alliance4AI, while Data Science Nigeria is providing support as a regional partner.
African Bank’s executive of credit and data science, Vere Millican, notes: “Just this month, African Bank welcomed 38 new data scientist trainees into our growing team. We now have a total of 77 data science professionals, 20 of which are currently attending the Explore Data Science Academy.
“We are committed to upskilling and employing brilliant data scientists, and welcome opportunities like this to develop and find young talent. What better platform than a competition which showcases the skills of the best talent across Africa.”
More than 500 participants in teams of up to four people are expected to submit their machine learning solutions to one of three pressing challenges hosted on the Zindi data science competition platform.
Universities can register to participate on the Zindi Web site until 6 March. Prospective applicants must have a Google account to be able to complete the form.