Zindi brings African universities together for UmojaHack Africa


On 21 March 2020, Zindi will host UmojaHack Africa, the first ever pan-African inter-university machine learning hackathon. Student teams at universities across Africa will compete while honing their skills and developing machine learning solutions to complex real-world challenges. The winning teams in each of three different machine learning challenges will win cash and other prizes, as well as winning cash prizes for the universities they represent to grow data science on the continent. 

“UmojaHack Africa is the first event of its kind in Africa that will bring together university students from all across Africa, competing to solve some of today’s most urgent challenges using data science and machine learning,” says Celina Lee, CEO of Zindi. “At Zindi, our goal is to make AI accessible to everyone. The UmojaHack is as much about upskilling students as it is about showcasing to the world the budding talent that this continent has to offer.” 

Universities from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Algeria, Senegal, Ethiopia and Tanzania have already signed up, with interest from universities across more than 10 African countries.  Zindi is pleased to welcome prestigious universities such as the ​University of Cape Town​,  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​, among many others.

“University of Cape Town 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 to solve machine learning problems in real time while sharing expertise and ideas, and to build their professional profiles and networks.”

Sponsors for the event include African Bank and Alliance4AI​, while Data Science Nigeria​ is  providing support as a regional partner for the event. 

African Bank’s Executive of Credit and Data Science, Vere Millican, says African Bank is delighted to be involved with UmojaHack Africa. “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.”

In teams of up to four people, more than 500 participants will submit machine learning solutions to one of three pressing challenges hosted on the Zindi data science competition platform. The  solutions will be automatically ranked using Zindi’s objective scoring system, and the winning  solutions will win a share of $2000 USD, as well as a share of $15 000 USD for their university. There will also be other prizes for runners up in each challenge. 

Zindi is a data science competition platform on a mission to build the data science ecosystem in Africa. The platform hosts a community of more than 9000 data scientists across Africa, dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing challenges through machine learning and artificial intelligence.  

Data scientists and students come to Zindi to hone their skills, build their professional profile, connect with job opportunities, and to share ideas with their peers across Africa and beyond. 

Universities can register to participate at UmojaHack until 6 March 2020. For interviews, queries or more information, or if your university would like to participate, please call Paul Kennedy on 079 225 9286

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