MEDIA RELEASE


Thursday, 19 March 2020: With social distancing in place and serious concerns about the spread of coronavirus, Zindi will demonstrate the power of their online platform to crowd-solve challenges in health, education, environmental conservation, and business through the UmojaHack Africa competition which takes place on Saturday, 21 March 2020.

Zindi will host the first-ever virtual inter-university artificial intelligence (AI) hackathon for students across Africa. Over 70 universities from 17 African countries, with an estimated 2500 students, have registered to participate in the hackathon taking place on Zindi’s online platform.

Celina Lee, Zindi’s chief executive officer says, “This level of collaboration and partnership across Africa is very exciting, and it is quite simple for students to join remotely through Zindi. The day’s activities will be live streamed on our YouTube channel, from the launch of the hackathon through to when we announce the winners at the end of the day. We will host discussions about the three challenges, check in with universities and participating students around Africa, and respond to questions via live streaming. Zindi’s platform makes this all possible despite the health challenges the world is currently facing.”

www.zindi.africa is a free-to-use data science competition platform which requires participants to use universally compatible open-source languages and tools only, making it widely accessible to communities and organizations around Africa. Students at each university will work in teams of up to four people, competing for cash and in-kind prizes while representing their university. The stakes are high and Zindi expects the best of the next generation of data scientists to show up on the day.

The top-performing team in each of three challenges will be awarded prize money of $1000 USD, $600 USD, and $400 USD respectively. Teams placing 2nd and 3rd in each category will be awarded learning opportunities from one of the sponsors of the event. The associated university will receive $7500 (1st category), $5000 (2nd category), and $2500 (3rd category).

These teams of data scientists will be working to find the best solution for three real world challenges:

  1. Hotspot Fire Prediction Challenge
    Teams are challenged to figure out the dynamics of where and when fires occur in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country dealing with the health and environmental impacts of slash and burn agriculture. They must also predict how these dynamics will play out in the future, under different climatic conditions. The challenge is to build a model capable of predicting the burned area in different locations.
  2. SAEON Marine Invertebrate Classification Challenge
    Teams are challenged to develop an automated image classification solution for photographs of marine invertebrate taken by researchers in South Africa. The solutions will reduce the resources needed to manually process photos and allow researchers to identify changes in marine life faster and more efficiently, to better monitor and understanding climate change impacts.
  3. Xente Purchase Prediction Challenge

Teams are challenged to create a machine learning model to predict purchase behaviour of customers on the Xente app, based on their purchase history.  Xente is a Ugandan e-commerce start-up that makes it easy for consumers to make payments, get loans, and shop using simply a mobile phone. The resulting models and solutions will enable target marketing and create a better customers experience.

The machine learning solutions developed during UmojaHack Africa and the skills developed by the participants promise large-scale improvements to people’s lives, and it is no surprise that some top brands have got in on the action and partnered with Zindi to sponsor this exciting venture. Sponsors of the event include Microsoft, African Bank, Google Research, Liquid Telecom, Alliance4ai, Instadeep, and the Field Institute.

Background on Zindi

Zindi is a social enterprise whose mission is to grow AI in Africa to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. Their vision of AI for everyone aims to create a vibrant community of data scientists across Africa who use their skills to  solve the region’s most pressing problems.

Founded in September 2018, Zindi has grown rapidly into the leading data science competition platform in Africa, with an active community of more than 11000 data scientists across Africa and the rest of the world. The overwhelming popularity and success of the platform makes Zindi an attractive destination for venture capital and impact investors.

Zindi is the first data science competition platform in Africa, and hosts an entire data science ecosystem of scientists, engineers, hackers and students, focused on solving Africa’s most pressing problems. Zindi partners and collaborates with companies, non-profit organizations, universities and government institutions to create data-driven challenges for the Zindi community to tackle.

Whether testing the data science waters for the first time or trying to crack a persistent business problem with data, Zindi helps organizations explore the hidden value of their data at an affordable cost, by giving them access to a deep well of machine learning talent.

For data scientists, from newbies to rock stars, Zindi is a place to access African datasets and solve African problems. Data scientists will find all the tools they need on Zindi to compete, share ideas, hone their skills, build their professional profiles, find career opportunities, and have fun!