UmojaHack Africa 2021 brought more than 1,000 students from 126 universities across Africa to compete on Zindi, in a virtual machine learning hackathon on the weekend of 27th-28th March. More than Ksh. 1,075,000 ($10,000) in prizes were awarded to data science students from 9 African countries, and more than 8,500 submissions were made to solve three real-world machine learning challenges on Zindi.

Students from 21 African countries joined the event, representing Kenya, Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The students participated in three different machine learning challenges

1. A financial resilience prediction challenge.
2. A logistics challenge for African B2B service provider Sendy.
3. A computational biology challenge using the DeepChain platform developed by InstaDeep.

The winning solutions developed by Zindi users will be shared with these organizations and deployed in real-world applications.

Tony Mipawa, a data science student from the University of Dodoma, Tanzania, came in second place in the Sendy Delivery Rider Response Challenge. Tony epitomized the spirit of Zindi and of UmojaHack.

“I’m very happy with the outcome,” Tony said at the awards ceremony. “My advice is, whenever there is an opportunity to learn, you should take it. Learning is all about passion; whenever there is an opportunity to learn, put your whole effort into it, do it well. Try to learn from anyone you meet. I would like to thank Zindi for what that mentorship program gave me.”

UmojaHack Africa 2021 was sponsored by InstaDeep, Standard Bank Group, Microsoft, DeepMind, NVIDIA, and Old Mutual. They were integral in making the event a success by offering financial and professional development prizes, contributing their expertise and excitement to the event, and supporting UmojaHack Africa 2021 through their own channels.

“We are incredibly excited about this event spanning over 100 African universities and helping thousands of African students leverage their data science and AI skills to solve African problems,” said Chris Lwanga, Principal Director for Software Partnerships at Microsoft.

According to Celina Lee, CEO of Zindi, “UmojaHack Africa has proven to be a game-changing event, especially when so many young people have been impacted by the global pandemic. This is a chance for students from across the continent to come together to learn, compete, and have fun. UmojaHack is about building skills, creating new machine learning applications to solve problems that really matter, while forging new connections among the students as well as with industry. We are incredibly excited to see what the students come up with in just one weekend.”