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.

New podcast by Wale Akinfaderin on AI for parliamentary documents in Nigerian

Adewale Akinfaderin
Adewale Akinfaderin

Wale Akinfaderin is a K4A grantee within the AI4D programme working on Predicting and Analyzing Law-Making in Kenya has delivered a podcast for an episode of “I Am Change” podcast series with Korede Azeez. The interview can be found on Soundcloud and Apple podcast.

The project proposes expanding a framework on categorizing parliamentary bills in Nigeria using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), document embedding and recurrent neural networks to three other countries in Africa: Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa.

His work was accepted at 4th Widening NLP Workshop, Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, ACL 2020.

New call for AI4D innovation grants open now

Deep Learning Indaba 2019, Nairobi, Kenya
Deep Learning Indaba 2019, Nairobi, Kenya

Knowledge 4 All Foundation partnered with the Deep Learning Indaba to fund research projects across Africa that are collaborative at heart and have a strong development focus.

This Call for Proposals invites individuals, grassroots organizations, initiatives, academic, and civil society institutions to apply for funding for mini-projects.

A mini-project could also be early-stage research around our Grand Challenge of curing leishmaniasis.

ICLR presentations of AI4D mini-grants

As part of the AfricaNLP – Unlocking Local Languages workshop, we hosted a number of projects working in Artificial Intelligence in Africa for Development, funded via IDRC grants.

K4A grant to solve access to Nigeria’s legislative bills with AI

AI4D mini-grants presentations, Nairobi 2019
AI4D mini-grants presentations, Nairobi 2019

K4A grant recipients Adewale Akinfaderin, Olamilekan Wahab and Olubayo Adekanmb, are successfully using Artificial Intelligence to digitize parliamentary bills in Sub-Saharan Africa and Specifically in Nigeria. Read their recent interview in the Techpoint.Africa article.