Zindi rallies Africa’s data scientists to crowd-solve local problems
Zindi is convening Africa’s data scientists to create AI solutions for complex problems. Founded in 2018, the Cape Town-based startup allows companies, NGOs or government institutions to host online competitions around data-oriented challenges. Zindi’s platform also coordinates a group of more than 4,000 data scientists based in Africa who can enroll to join a competition, submit their solution sets, move up a leader board and win the challenge — for a cash prize payout. The highest purse so far has been $12,000, split across the top three data scientists in a competition, according to Zindi co-founder Celina Lee. Competition hosts receive the results, which they can use to create new products or integrate into their existing systems and platforms. Zindi’s model has gained the attention of some big corporate names in and outside of Africa. Digital infrastructure company Liquid Telecom has hosted competitions. This week, the startup announced a partnership with Microsoft to use cloud-based computing service Azure to power Zindi’s platform. Microsoft will also host (and sport the prize money) for two competitions to find solutions in African agtech. In a challenge put forward by Ugandan IoT accelerator Wazihub, an open call is out for Zindi’s data scientist network to build a machine learning model to predict humidity. In a $10,000 challenge for Cape Town-based startup FarmPin, Zindi’s leader board is tracking the best solutions for classifying fields by crop type in South Africa using satellite imagery and mobile phones. There’s demand in Africa to rally data scientists to solve problems across the continent’s public and private sectors, according to Zindi CEO Celina Lee. “African companies, startups, organizations and governments are in this phase right now of digitization and tech where they are generating huge amounts of data. There’s interest in leveraging things like machine learning and AI