Africa’s AI community launches two initiatives seeking data science solutions for Coronavirus
17-03-2020 07:04:00 | by: Bob Koigi | hits: 2712 | Tags:

Two members of Africa’s artificial intelligence (AI) community – data science competition platform Zindi and Ghana’s Runmila AI Institute – in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, have launched two initiatives seeking AI and data science solutions that will help in the fight against the viral disease.

As of 16 March there were about 169 387 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and over 6 500 reported deaths around the world.

In a bid to fight the virus, Zindi has launched a challenge sponsored by the Artificial Intelligence for Development-Africa Network (AI4D-Africa) which asks data scientists to build an epidemiological model that predicts the spread of COVID-19 throughout the world over the next few months. The platform says the solutions will be evaluated against future data.

Zindi points out that accurate modelling of the spread of viral diseases like COVID-19 is critical for policy makers and health workers to take appropriate actions to contain and mitigate the impact of these diseases.

The challenge, titled AI4D Predict the Global Spread of COVID-19, was launched on 13 March, with submissions set to close on 19 April. At the end of the challenge, participants with solutions that place first will receive a $2,500 prize, this while second and third placed data science practitioners will receive $1,500 and $1,000, respectively for their solutions.

On 21 March, Accra-based Runmila AI Institute will hold the Runmila AI4COVID-19 Hackathon and AI Research Fellowship Event at the University of Ghana.

The event aims to use AI and data science to combat COVID-19 in Ghana and Africa.

Runmila will host the event in collaboration with minoHealth AI Labs. In attendance will be Runmila AI Fellows and alumni, data scientists and AI engineers from minoHealth AI Labs and Gudra, virologists as well as bioinformaticians from the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) and delegates from organisations that include German development agency GIZ, UN Global Pulse and Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Dr Nick Bradshaw, Co-founder of AI Expo Africa, an AI business community in Africa stated, “With the announcement by the South African President on Sunday 15th March around measures to combat the growing COVID19 virus we want our community to play its part and leverage data science and artificial intelligence to help model the spread of the COVID-19 virus. These two platforms and associated challenges will contribute to the global body of knowledge to help combat COVID-19. We are all in this together and have to help people, families, businesses, front line workers, society and the world cope with this global issue – these two initiatives are a significant contribution from Africa”.