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K4A supported research projects in African natural language processing now available in study

K4A has been instrumental in contributing to the roadmap for African language technologies. The new study investigates the motivations, focus and challenges faced by stakeholders at the core of the NLP ecosystem in an African context.

By identifying and interviewing core stakeholders in the NLP process a number of recommendations are proposed for use by policymakers, AI researchers, and other relevant stakeholders in aid of the betterment of the development of language content and language technology.

Graphical abstract
Graphical abstract of the study published in Patterns 4, 100820, August 11, 2023

The K4A grantees have put forward the following recommendations for stakeholders working in the African language ecosystem:

  • Language acquisition of Indigenous African languages, primarily by Africans, should be better supported, and technology is a means to do this, as has been the case for many other non-African languages.
  • Basic tooling to support content creation on digital platforms, such as digital dictionaries, thesauruses, keyboards supporting diacritics where relevant, and spell checkers that recognize African names and places without error, should be prioritized.
  • Language tools and processes for content moderation and to catch and control the spread of misinformation online in Indigenous African languages should be developed and actively used.
  • Language careers and the professional opportunities available, particularly as pertains to Indigenous African languages, should be made more visible to students earlier in their education so as to generate greater interest in these fields in tertiary education.
  • AI language tools that augment human activities as opposed to tools seeking to replace them should be the intentional design choice, especially given the current dearth of tooling and data for African languages.
  • Computational linguistics components should be introduced into the educational curricula of disciplines adjacent to and working with language, e.g., linguistics and journalism, with an emphasis on the role they can play in the development of ethical and inclusive AI so as to encourage a pipeline of cross-discipline stakeholders working to build language technology.
  • Professional training opportunities to enable multilingual individuals to venture into language careers should be increased.
  • The study of contemporary use of language in Africa should be emphasized, given increasing urbanization and the multicultural nature of the continent.
  • Funding for dataset creation and annotation, both of which can be time-consuming and expensive tasks, should be increased.
  • African language policies, particularly those pertaining to education and provision of government services, should be better implemented with the aid of emerging language tools and technologies.
  • Digital licensing and funding should be made suitable to support legal cases against non-African corporations who use open African data.
  • An ‘‘ethical data curation toolkit,’’ which is informed by information scientists, data privacy experts, and machine learning bias experts, would empower dataset curators with the knowledge and skills to perform informed data curation.
  • The toolkit should be accompanied by a workshop in which practical training and discussions can take place.

NAIXUS founding partners meet at the Deep Learning Indaba 2023

The NAIXUS project (Network of Excellence on AI and the United Nations SDGs) convened a significant meeting during the Deep Learning Indaba 2023. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the progress of the project, share insights, and plan future actions to strengthen the network’s impact on advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through artificial intelligence (AI) research. K4A is a founding partner of the NAIXUS network.

Key Discussion Points:

  1. Project Overview: The meeting began with an overview of the NAIXUS project’s objectives and milestones achieved since its inception. The project aims to connect AI researchers worldwide to collaborate on SDG-related research, advocate for ethical AI practices, and contribute to policy discussions.
  2. Membership and Collaboration: Members discussed the growth of the NAIXUS network and the importance of expanding its reach to include researchers from diverse geographical regions and fields of expertise. Participants emphasized the need for cross-disciplinary collaboration to address complex sustainability challenges effectively.
  3. Research Focus Areas: The meeting highlighted the key research focus areas within the project, including healthcare, climate action, poverty reduction, and education. Members presented their ongoing research projects related to these themes and shared preliminary findings.
  4. Data Accessibility: Data accessibility emerged as a critical topic of discussion. Members discussed strategies for promoting open data sharing, building partnerships with organizations possessing relevant data sets, and ensuring data privacy and security in AI research.
  5. Policy and Advocacy: The NAIXUS project’s advocacy efforts were discussed, including engagement with policymakers and international organizations. Members shared success stories and outlined plans for future advocacy initiatives to influence AI policy in alignment with the SDGs.
  6. Ethical AI Guidelines: The meeting acknowledged the importance of ethical considerations in AI research. A working group was established to draft a set of ethical guidelines for AI researchers working on SDG-related projects, with a commitment to responsible AI development.

Outcomes and Next Steps:

  1. Continued Collaboration: Members further committed to strengthening collaboration within the NAIXUS network. Plans were made to organize webinars, workshops, and virtual conferences to facilitate knowledge exchange and foster partnerships.
  2. Research Publication: The network emphasized the significance of publishing research findings in reputable journals and conferences to contribute to the academic discourse on AI for SDGs. Members pledged to submit their work to relevant outlets.
  3. Academic Journal: Plans were discussed to finalise and launch a centralized repository accessible to researchers working on SDG projects. This resource will help address academic excellence in the field of machine learning and development.
  4. Advocacy Campaign: A dedicated advocacy campaign was proposed to engage with policymakers and raise awareness about the role of AI in advancing the SDGs. Members will work together to create policy briefs and position papers.

The NAIXUS project meeting at Deep Learning Indaba 2023 was a productive and collaborative gathering of AI researchers committed to addressing the United Nations’ SDGs through responsible and ethical AI research. The outcomes of the meeting, including continued collaboration, research publication, advocacy efforts, and data accessibility initiatives, will contribute significantly to the project’s mission and its impact on global sustainable development efforts. The project remains dedicated to fostering a global network of researchers working together to harness the power of AI for the betterment of society and the achievement of the SDGs.

Workshop at the Deep Learning Indaba 2023: “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers On AI and the United Nations SDGs”

K4A as a core member in the Network of Excellence NAIXUS; a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at bridging the gap between AI and sustainable development co-hosted a meeting and a workshop in Accra, Ghana. Both events were held as part of the Deep Learning Indaba 2023 Forum on September 8 and 9 and were co-hosted by the NAIXUS members from Africa.

The Deep Learning Indaba 2023 featured a dynamic workshop titled “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs.” The workshop aimed to foster collaboration among AI researchers and practitioners to address the challenges posed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Held at the Indaba, this workshop brought together Indaba attendees from diverse backgrounds to discuss, share insights, and develop strategies for harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to advance the SDGs.

Key workshop Themes and Discussions:

  1. The Role of AI in SDGs: The workshop began with an exploration of the fundamental role AI can play in achieving the SDGs. Participants discussed how AI can be applied to areas such as healthcare, education, poverty alleviation, and climate change mitigation. The consensus was that AI has immense potential to drive progress in these critical areas.
  2. Challenges and Ethical Considerations: A substantial part of the workshop focused on the challenges and ethical considerations associated with AI in SDG-related projects. Concerns related to bias in AI algorithms, data privacy, and transparency were addressed. Participants stressed the importance of adhering to ethical AI principles to avoid exacerbating existing inequalities.
  3. Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration: The workshop emphasized the need for cross-disciplinary collaboration. It highlighted that addressing the complex challenges of the SDGs requires expertise from various fields, including computer science, social sciences, and policy-making. Building a global network of researchers from these diverse backgrounds was recognized as essential.
  4. Data Sharing and Accessibility: Ensuring access to high-quality data emerged as a critical issue. Participants discussed the importance of open data-sharing initiatives and the development of AI models that can work with limited data resources, especially in underserved regions.
  5. Policy and Advocacy: Policymaking and advocacy for AI in SDG implementation were also key topics. Participants discussed the importance of influencing policy frameworks to ensure AI is used responsibly to advance the SDGs. Advocacy efforts and partnerships with governments and international organizations were encouraged.

The “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs” workshop at Deep Learning Indaba 2023 provided a platform for robust discussions and concrete actions. It underscored the importance of AI in addressing the SDGs and the need for interdisciplinary collaboration, ethical considerations, and responsible policymaking. The outcomes of the workshop pave the way for a more coordinated and impactful approach to utilizing AI for sustainable development globally.

K4A gives support to IRCAI and AWS fellowship on climate via research network expertise

K4A will support with research capacity from EU projects a new program that selects and fully funds proof of concepts of new ideas leveraging advanced cloud computing and AI to solve some of the biggest challenges in the fight against climate change. It is a new program to fund Climate Tech startups’ R&D projects that need a great deal of cloud computing. Startups at any stage can apply, they just need to have a tech team capable of building with advanced computing services.


It supports entrepreneurs and startups applying advanced cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) to create new solutions that address the climate crisis. The Compute for Climate Fellowship will select innovative ideas and fully fund the design and building of their proof of concepts (PoC).

When a startup is selected for the fellowship, they will engage in a 2-3 month build with 1:1 advice from mentors and AWS credits to cover the AWS service costs of the build. Both IRCAI and AWS will provide selected startups with a team of mentors who are experts in AI, sustainability and ethics. 

Startups will get access to advanced computing services, such as quantum computing, high-performance computing (HPC), artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), and AWS credits to cover the build of the PoC. In addition, all PoCs will be designed under the guidelines of UNESCO’s Ethics Impact Assessment for Artificial Intelligence to ensure that each solution is built with safe, trustworthy technology.

Run by:

The Compute for Climate Fellowship is a global program run by the International Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI), an organization under the auspices of UNESCO, and Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS).
The Compute for Climate Fellowship is a global program run by the International Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI), an organization under the auspices of UNESCO, and Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS).

Supported by:

European Learning and Intelligent Systems Excellence - Making Europe competitive in AI technology
European Learning and Intelligent Systems Excellence – Making Europe competitive in AI technology
HumanE AI Network - Making artificial intelligence human-centric
HumanE AI Network – Making artificial intelligence human-centric
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