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Africa's data scientists invited to test their mettle

Africa’s data scientists invited to test their mettle

Pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom has announced a partnership with Zindi social enterprise to roll out a new data science competition platform across Africa.

Zindi was recently launched at the AI Expo Africa in Cape Town, providing a platform for African data scientists to "convene, collaborate and compete" to solve the continent's most pressing challenges.

According to its website, Zindi works with companies, non-profit organisations and government institutions to develop, curate, and prepare data-driven challenges.

In a statement issued, the partners say the platform is being launched with three inaugural competitions that will be open for the next two-to-four months.

"This includes a challenge co-sponsored by Uber for data scientists to optimise public transportation in Nairobi, and another to automatically process text in documents to classify them according to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals framework.

A total prize money of up to $12,000 is available to entrants in this first set of competitions.

New competitions are due to be launched each month.

According to Liquid Telecoms there is growing demand across Africa for data scientists with the technical and analytical skills to understand exponential volumes of data (also known as Big Data) and come up with evidence-based solutions.

The company provides high-speed internet access and Azure credits to entrants competing in the DataHack for Financial Inclusion (DataHack4FI) competition - which is using data science to develop new solutions to improve financial inclusion. It is also supporting Strathmore Business School (SBS) in Nairobi with its new data analytics centre focused on data-driven research and practices for African businesses.

Liquid Telecom also runs masterclass programmes in data science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for start-ups in the region.

Ben Roberts, Group Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Liquid Telecom, said, "Data science has an enormous role to play in Africa's digital future – and now is the time to ensure we develop the technical skills that the region needs to excel in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Zindi platform offers a dynamic way for data scientists to learn and experiment with large sets of data and we're really excited to be working alongside Zindi on this initiative."

The telco plans to host its own competition on the Zindi platform in the near future, enabling data scientists to analyse its data sets and come up with solutions to better serve customers.

Celina Lee, CEO of Zindi, added, "From novices to experts, Zindi is bringing together African data scientists to improve their skills and create solutions to real-world problems. Our partnership with Liquid Telecom will broaden the reach and visibility of the Zindi platform across Africa - enabling data scientists to connect with more peers and access more meaningful data sets."

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