CAPE TOWN 16th March 2020 – Two members of Africa’s artificial intelligence (AI) community – data science competition platform Zindi and Ghana’s Runmila AI Institute – in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, have launched two initiatives seeking AI and data science solutions that will help in the fight against the viral disease.

johns hopkins university COVID19 dashboard

Johns Hopkins University COVID19 Dashboard

As of 16 March there were about 174,000+ confirmed cases of the coronavirus and over 6 500 reported deaths around the world.  In a bid to fight the virus, Zindi has launched a challenge sponsored by the Artificial Intelligence for Development-Africa Network (AI4D-Africa) which asks data scientists to build an epidemiological model that predicts the spread of COVID-19 throughout the world over the next few months. The platform says the solutions will be evaluated against future data.  Zindi points out that accurate modelling of the spread of viral diseases like COVID-19 is critical for policy makers and health workers to take appropriate actions to contain and mitigate the impact of these diseases.  The challenge, titled AI4D Predict the Global Spread of COVID-19, was launched on 13 March, with submissions set to close on 19 April. At the end of the challenge, participants with solutions that place first will receive a $2,500 prize, this while second and third placed data science practitioners will receive $1,500 and $1,000, respectively for their solutions.

AI4D Predict the Global Spread of COVID-19

AI4D Predict the Global Spread of COVID-19

On 21 March, Accra-based Runmila AI Institute will hold the Runmila AI4COVID-19 Hackathon and AI Research Fellowship Event at the University of Ghana.  The event aims to use AI and data science to combat COVID-19 in Ghana and Africa.  Runmila will host the event in collaboration with minoHealth AI Labs. In attendance will be Runmila AI Fellows and alumni, data scientists and AI engineers from minoHealth AI Labs and Gudra, virologists as well as bioinformaticians from the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) and delegates from organisations that include German development agency GIZ, UN Global Pulse and Japan International Cooperation Agency.

runmila institute covid 19 hackathon

Runmila Institute COVID19 Hackathon

Dr Nick Bradshaw, Co-founder of AI Expo Africa, the largest AI business community in Africa stated, “With the announcement by the South African President on Sunday 15th March around measures to combat the growing COVID19 virus we want our community to play its part and leverage data science and artificial intelligence to help model the spread of the COVID-19 virus. These two platforms and associated challenges will contribute to the global body of knowledge to help combat COVID-19. We are all in this together and have to help people, families, businesses, front line workers, society and the world cope with this global issue – these two initiatives are a significant contribution from Africa”.

Young data scientists looking to participate in the event can apply to join the Runmila AI Fellowship programme by filling this form

Learn more about the Zindi’s AI4D Predict the Global Spread of COVID-19 challenge at

About AI Expo Africa 2020

Produced by the AI Media Group and with 3000+ community members, AI Expo Africa is now entering its third successful year and is the largest B2B trade focused Artificial Intelligence, RPA & Data Science business conference in Africa. The 2020 edition of AI Expo Africa will run on 3 and 4 September 2020 at the world-class Century City Conference Center, and builds upon the phenomenal success of the 2018 and 2019 events that cemented it as the largest gathering of its kind, with over 1000 registered delegates, decision makers, investors, buyers, suppliers, innovators, SMBs and global brands in the region. Those looking to attend the conference can save up to 30% on a super early bird ticket sale that ends on 31 March.


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