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DL Indaba: AI Investments in Africa: Melanie and her special guest co-hosts Nyalleng Moorosi and Willie Brink are at Deep Learning Indaba this week!

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This week we are bringing you a couple of interviews from last week’s Deep Learning Indaba conference. Dr. Vukosi Marivate, Andrea Bohmert and Yasin(i) Musa Ayami talk about the burgeoning machine learning community, research, companies and AI investment landscape in Africa. While Mark is at Google Cloud Next in Tokyo, Melanie is joined by special guest co-hosts Nyalleng Moorosi and Willie Brink.

Vukosi and Yasin(i) share how Deep Learning Indaba is playing an important role to recognize and grow machine learning research and companies on the African continent. We also discuss Yasin(i)’s prototyped app, Tukuka, and how it won the Maathai Award which is given to individuals who are a positive force for change. Tukuka is being built to aid economically disadvantaged women in Zambia get access to financial resources that are currently unavailable. Andrea rounds up the interviews by giving us a VC perspective on the AI start-up landscape in Africa and how that compares to other parts of the world. As Nyalleng says at the end, AI is happening in Africa and has great potential for impact.



Willie Brink

Willie Brink is a senior lecturer of Applied Mathematics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He teaches various courses in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, at all levels, and his research interests fall mainly in the broad fields of computer vision and machine learning. He has worked on multi-view geometry, visual odometry, recognition and tracking, probabilistic graphical models, as well as deep learning. Recent research directions include visual knowledge representation and reasoning. Willie is also one of the founders and organisers of the Deep Learning Indaba, an exciting initiative working to celebrate and strengthen machine learning and artificial intelligence research in Africa, and to promote diversity and transformation in these fields.

Nyalleng Moorosi

Nyalleng is a Software Engineer and Researcher with the Google AI team in Ghana. Before joining Google, Nyalleng was a senior Data Science researcher at South Africa’s national science lab, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), with the Modeling and Digital Sciences Unit. In her capacity at CSIR, she works on projects ranging from: rhino poaching prevention with park rangers, working with news outlets to understand social media sentiments, and searching for Biomarkers in African cancer proteomes. Before getting into ML research at CSIR, she was a computer science lecturer at Fort Hare University and a software engineer at Thomson Reuters. Moorosi is an active member of Women in Machine Learning, Black in Artificial Intelligence, and an organising member of the Deep Learning Indaba - a yearly workshop that gathers African researchers in one space to share ideas and grow machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities.

Dr. Vukosi Marivate

Dr. Vukosi Marivate holds a PhD in Computer Science (Rutgers University) and MSc & BSc in Electrical Engineering (Wits University). He has recently started at the University of Pretoria as the ABSA Chair of Data Science. Vukosi works on developing Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence methods to extract insights from data. A large part of his work over the last few years has been in the intersection of Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (due to the abundance of text data and need to extract insights). As part of his vision for the ABSA Data Science chair, Vukosi is interested in Data Science for Social Impact, using local challenges as a springboard for research. In this area Vukosi has worked on projects in science, energy, public safety and utilities. Vukosi is an organizer of the Deep Learning Indaba, the largest Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence workshop on the African continent, aiming to strengthen African Machine Learning. He is passionate about developing young talent, supervising MSc and PhD students, and mentoring b

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