The third Africa Data Science Intensive (DSI) Programme, which focuses on deep insights on industry trends, network building and practical team skills used in business to facilitate transitioning to a data science role in industry, academia or through entrepreneurship, was recently held from 9-13 May 2022 at Paarl.
The programme, hosted by the UK – South Africa Newton Fund as part of the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) Big Data project, aims at using real-world problems to give participants hands-on knowledge of the latest algorithms and techniques in data science and artificial intelligence. 20 participants representing 11 African countries were hosted at the programme.
Furthermore, the winning presentation, a plant disease classifier and detection project by Christopher Mbeva, was the culmination of over four months of completing four modules in Regression; Optimisation and Forecasting; Natural Language Processing.
“The rigorous selection procedure, which included online assessments and interviews, emphasised gender and geographic diversity with the goal of giving the brightest and most talented minds a chance to undertake a life-changing program that will equip them with the key skills for success in data science and artificial intelligence,” said Prof. Bruce Bassett, founder and lead organiser of the Africa DSI programme.
In addition, the programme covered a range of topics, including retail data analysis and customer segmentation and growth analysis; bioacoustics; object detection of solar radio bursts; data analytics for improving blood service management; plant disease classification and detection; cattle activity recognition and tracking; galaxy image classifier; computer vision applied to reptile classification; forecast and optimisation for renewable energy scheduling; modelling influenza incidence; and fraud detection.
For the final presentation, the invited judges included Dr Rob Adam, Managing Director of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO); Prof. Barry Green, Director of AIMS South Africa; William Galloway, Chief of Intelligence at Voxcroft; and Dries Cronjé, CEO and Founder of Deep Learning Café.
“It is exciting to see the diversity of projects presented that are relevant to the participants’ local communities and how these can positively impact lives in Africa,” said Carla Sharpe, Africa Programme Manager at SARAO.
Besides representation from SARAO and the Department of Science and Innovation, lecturers and judges for the course came from all over the world, including organisations such as the University of Manchester, Airbnb, Cambridge University, IBM, Nvidia, Netflix as well as African start-ups and companies such as Nosible, Optimum and VoxCroft Analytics.
Ayooluwa Adetola is a writer and editor at Space in Africa. She loves to share scientific information using the simplest words possible. When she’s not in front of a screen, she can be found with her nose buried in a book.