Microsoft is announcing plans to build a new team of data scientists on the ground in Africa to work to improve climate resilience, by setting up AI for Good Labs in Nairobi, Kenya, and Cairo, Egypt. This will be the company’s first global expansion of the AI for Good Lab. The new team will work with local partners to use AI on new climate initiatives.
Currently, statistics show that for every five data scientists in the Global North there is one in the Global South. In Africa the situation is dire and the gap is wider. For every data scientist in Africa, there are 14 in the Global North. This means a gap in the available reliable data to work with. As well as being able to turn them into insights for the decision-makers to use. This is why Microsoft is planning to open AI for Good Labs in Africa to help close that divide.
As world and business leaders gather in Egypt for COP27, Juan Lavista Ferres, Chief Data Scientist, AI for Good, Microsoft, reveals Microsoft’s plans to close the climate data divide in the Global South. The work of the Labs he notes will be informed by the Microsoft Africa AI Innovation Council. Another new establishment by Microsoft in partnership with representatives from African organizations such as the AfDB, and African Climate Foundation.
“We see these days ahead as an opportunity to engage in important discussions and take steps toward solutions. Today we are sharing details about our work to support new climate solutions. By harnessing the power of data and artificial intelligence (AI), with an expansion of our AI for Good Research Lab into Egypt and Kenya.“Juan Lavista Ferres
“Access to reliable climate data is critical to inform decision-making and avoid the worst effects of climate change“, says Wael El Kabbany, General Manager, Africa Regional Cluster, Microsoft. “We believe these labs will be significant in closing the climate data divide“, he adds.
Microsoft AI for Good Lab
The Microsoft AI for Good Lab consists of data scientists and researchers who use AI, Machine Learning, and statistical modeling to address human challenges. Across the AI for Good program portfolio—Earth, Accessibility, Humanitarian Action, Cultural Heritage, and Health. They work on issues that improve societies and environments with a focus on sustainability.
Juan adds that Microsoft “will work to scale AI for Good projects and support startups in the region to deliver new AI innovations“. Africa-based data scientists will have access to satellite imagery thanks to a partnership between Microsoft and Plant Labs. To address challenges nominated by the Africa AI Innovation Council with a special focus on adaptation and early warning systems.
The new Microsoft AI for Good labs in the region will bring in new jobs as it hires data scientists and researchers with experience in computer vision, statistics, and artificial intelligence.
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