Introduction and rationale

This kick-off is part of a webinar series, hosted by the International Research Centre in Artificial Intelligence IRCAI[) and supported by UNESCO and Knowledge 4 All Foundation, to present the Fellowship to develop datasets and strengthen capacities and innovation potential for Low Resource African Languages project that is composed of research in natural language processing, open dataset creation and publishing, and the development of an interface between policy and technology sphere.

One of the results coming from the fellowship are 4 new projects which are supported by the Lacuna Fund, in collaboration with Canada’s International Development Research Centre, the German development agency GIZ on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), The Rockefeller Foundation and

This webinar will look at the structure and delivery plan of the new projects that intersect with the Fellowship to develop datasets and strengthen capacities and innovation potential for Low Resource African Languages projects.

  1. Masakhane MT: Decolonizing Scientific Writing for Africa
  2. Masakhane NER: Named Entity Recognition & Parts of Speech datasets for African Languages
  3. Building NLP Text and Speech Datasets for Low Resourced Languages in East Africa
  4. Nigerian Sentiment Lexicon

The kick-off meeting will cover the following:

  • Formal presentation by the project leads
  • Formal presentation by the project officer
  • Review of project overview and different roles and potential outcomes
  • Definition of different structures and where possible identification of individual responsibilities
  • Presentation of available software and networks that can be exploited
  • Identification of areas where development is needed and which partners will be responsible for what
  • Scheduling of the next set of meetings, including a technical workshop later in the year (perhaps w/c July), PMC meetings, and next project meetings.


13:00-14:00 Welcome and Introductions: 
  • John Shawe Taylor, Director at IRCAI and K4A, UNESCO Chair in AI at University College London

Background and history: 

  • Kathleen Siminyu, Regional Coordinator, AI4D Africa
  • Davor Orlic, COO at IRCAI and K4A

All projects overview and Masakhane legal entity: 

  • Jade Abbott, Retro Rabbit and Masakhane

Discussion with Lacuna Project Officer: 

  • Johannah Richards, Project Finance Specialist at Meridian Institute
Coffee Break

Presentation of management of all 4 projects:

  • Jade Abbott, Retro Rabbit and Masakhane
  • Peter Nabende, Makerere University
  • Shamsuddeen Hassan, Bayero University
  • Andrew Katumba, Makerere University


  • Rollout
  • Milestones
  • List of deliverables
  • Technologies to be developed
  • Data collection
  • Legal framework
  • Risks
  • Discussion
16:00-16:10 Coffee Break
16:10-17:00 Presentations of business and outreach and data influencing policies
  • Hacking and Prototyping
  • Products and Business
  • Pilots and Architecture
  • Dissemination and Policy
  • Invitation to the research communitiy
  • Wrapping up and Closure