Microsoft AI for Good Lab comes to Kenya, Egypt

Microsoft AI for Good Lab comes to Kenya, Egypt

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
AI for Good Lab, 
peson wearing a Microsoft HoloLens with streched hand and standing of a desk monitor  showing what the person is seeing in the mixed reality device

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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What is Microsoft AI for Good?

What is Microsoft AI for Good?

Microsoft AI for good

What is Microsoft AI for Good? It is Microsoft’s philanthropic initiative to empower people and organizations working around the world to protect cultural heritage, solve humanitarian issues and create a more sustainable and accessible world.

Mike Yeh, Associate General Counsel, Microsoft Middle East and Africa speaks to Shalewa Williams, TechCity Nigeria about the initiative. He notes that the initiative is Microsoft funding people, companies with ideas that address global issues.

He sheds light on the Microsoft AI for Good initiative. Expounding on the various pillars; Sustainability, Accessibility, Earth and Cultural Heritage. Mike Yeh also shares the important details of how African organizations can apply for grants under this initiative.

What the full interview below

Upepo Company Limited, Kenya, won an innovation in water grant under the AI for good initiative.

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Imagine Cup Junior : Microsoft targets younger students with Artificial Intelligence for Good Challenge

Imagine Cup Junior : Microsoft targets younger students with Artificial Intelligence for Good Challenge

Imagine Cup Junior

Microsoft is extending its global student competition program Imagine Cup to younger students with new Imagine Cup Junior competition. The new competition will target secondary school students between the ages of thirteen to eighteen globally.

Microsoft says Imagine Cup Junior competition will help students learn about technology and build 21st century skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. While coming up with ideas for improving the world around them. The first edition will focus on Artificial Intelligence and introducing the students to Microsoft’s AI for Good initiatives.

Microsoft VP Education, Anthony Salcito says “we believe the future is in the hands of students around the world. Who are increasingly driven by a sense of purpose and want to have a positive impact on the world and their communities“.

The goal of the competition is to create excitement and energy among students and educators Microsoft says. By giving them the opportunity to use Artificial Intelligence to solve real-world problems. Unlike the other, the Junior competition is only opened to schools and instructor led clubs. To participate in the competition an educator or instructor will need to register the institution for the Contest.

Click to find out more about the competition and how to participate.

Students and educators do not need to have prior knowledge of AI. Microsoft has created a host of materials, including templates and AI resource guides to help learn from scratch. The lesson guides include modules on Fundamentals of AI, machine learning and AI applications in real life.

Submissions for team projects will be open from February 3, 2020 and close April 17, 2020.

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