Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa 2018


As a Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa (MIIA) community along with our partners we are on a mission to use exponential technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain, as well as the operationalization of Big Data & Analytics and Data Science to help transform Africa and shape a better future in the Smart Technology Era. As discussed in Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa - Seasons Greetings and  Deep Learning in Africa, AI is also growing in leaps and bounds on the African continent and was further strengthened by a range of exciting activities in 2017. In this post we share some of events and initiatives on the MIIA calendar for 2018 (including a link to the keynote address that was delivered at last week's Artificial Intelligence Transforming HR Summit 2018). As Data Science Nigeria is also one of MIIA's partners, we also share their plans for 2018. Besides South Africa, to further support MIIA members across the African continent, MIIA is planning to setup Meetup communities in other parts of Africa, starting with Nigeria.

MIIA was also referenced in the Global AI Talent Report 2018 (see also corresponding LinkedIn article) that summarizes some research done by into the scope and breadth of the worldwide AI talent pool. Although these data visualizations map the distribution of worldwide talent at the start of 2018, they acknowledged that this is a predominantly Western-centric model of AI expertise.

On the partnership front, MIIA is excited to get more support from its current and new partners to build a strong and innovative Machine Intelligence and Data Science community in Africa to help transform Africa by networking together the critical mass of resources, promote and sponsor learning activities, and strengthen scientific and technological excellence, mentoring and collaboration on the continent. To this end MIIA is keen to partner with governments, businesses, startup incubators, non profit organizations, universities, and research organizations from around the world to support and help mould the future of Machine Intelligence and Data Science research and applications in Africa.

It is also great to see MIIA's growth over the last year or so with currently about 1800 registrations across MIIA social channels. The following diagram also shows the growth path since 2016, including some planned activities for 2018.

Some of the 2018 events on the MIIA calendar includes:

  • Artificial Intelligence Transforming Human Resources Summit 2018, Sandton, 14-16 February 2018
  • Deep Learning Meetup, Cape Town, 20 February 2018 
  • DataCon Africa 2018, CTICC, Cape Town, 26-28 February 2018 
  • Building AlphaZero AI using Python and Keras, MIIA Cape Town Meetup, Cape Town, 15 March 2018 
  • SatRday, Cape Town, 17 March 2018
  • SABEC 2018, 3rd SA Biomedical Engineering Conference 2018, Spier wine Estate, Stellenbosch, 4-6 April 2018  
  • Deep Learning IndabaX, UCT, Cape Town, 6 April 2018 
  • Opportunities and Pitfalls in Machine Learning and AI, Sandton, 18 April 2018 
  • Rise to the Challenge: Opportunities and Pitfalls in Machine Learning and AI, Rise Cape Town, Woodstock Exchange, Cape Town, 25 April 2018 
  • AIExpo Africa 2018, Cape Town, 9-11 September 2018
  • Deep Learning Indaba, Stellenbosch University, 9-15 September 2018

The rest of the article provides more details on each of these events.


Artificial Intelligence Transforming Human Resources Summit 2018, Sandton, 14-16 February 2018 

MIIA was represented at the Artificial Intelligence Transforming HR Summit 2018,where Dr Jacques Ludik has given the opening keynote address on "Artificial Intelligence and its impact on the Human Resources". The event was hosted at the Sandton Convention Centre from the 14th to the 16th of February 2018.

For more details, see the agenda at

Re-imagine how the delivery of HR, talent, learning, recruitment and performance management processes are being transformed by Cognitive insight

Chatbots, robots, virtual assistants, and other devices powered by business algorithms are rapidly joining the ranks of workers in every industry and profession. It’s up to human resource (HR) professionals to cultivate these innovations for the opportunities they bring to the company.

The biggest driver of AI’s impact in the HR industry is the massive growth of big data. Until now, we haven’t had access to simple software systems with which to track and analyse internal employee data such as sick days, leave requests, hiring trends, workflow, etc. In South Africa today, most businesses have undergone some degree of digital transformation and lean on various  type of technology. HR professionals are recognizing that this valuable data and the insights teased from it play a major role in reducing risk and driving decision-making, when it comes to talent management and organisational performance.

In its 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, “Rewriting the rules for the digital age”, Deloitte issues a call-to-action for companies to completely reconsider their organizational structure, talent and HR strategies to keep pace with digital disruption. “Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate and these innovations have completely transformed the way we live, work and communicate, both globally and here in South Africa” said Trevor Page, Director Human Capital at Deloitte Consulting.  “Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), mobile platforms, sensors, and social collaboration systems have revolutionized the way we live, work, and communicate; and the pace is only accelerating”.

AI in the Recruitment Revolution is having immense impact in improving traditional recruiting processes; introducing  virtual assistants for recruiters is one such way  in which recruitment can become less time-consuming. AI promises to augment recruiting with semantic search, people -analytics, real-time monitoring of performance, augmented reality tools to assist in interviews, and enhancing decision making by cultural fit analysis; though all these are still subject to successful implementation in the times to come. Unconscious Biases is one of the deeply rooted shortcomings of HR professionals, as no matter how self-aware we are, human decisions are still influenced to a degree by subjective opinion.

AI is also influencing Productivity Management be it selling, production, customer service or any parameter of Balance score card, thereby impacting factors around greater engagement as well as Retention. One of the most promising tools that AI could generate is a performance review of employee groups on a monthly basis and generating rewards for the delivery for the corresponding period.

Opening Keynote Presentation: 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on the Human Resources (HR)


  • The Rise of Artificial Intelligence - So, what is AI exactly?
  • Types of AI, Voice Recognition, Chatbots
  • AI Algorithms
  • Strong, weak and in-between AI
  • Why AI is so powerful for Human Resources
  • The rise of artificial intelligence and conversational interfaces
  • HR: The perfect home for intelligent assistants
  • Benefits of Artificial Intelligence For HR
  • AI driven HRIS
  • The risks of AI In HR
  • Evolutionary Drive To Survive –Why You Need To Adapt

Benefits of attending included:

  • Appreciate what AI actually is and its current and future impact on HR
  • Understand how AI has begun to transform HR Management, functions, roles, responsibilities, priorities and policies
  • Appreciate how deep learning systems can and are advancing HR
  • Learn how AI is changing staff training and development
  • Get exposed to how AI is influencing recruitment and selection
  • Foster an understanding of how AI can advance your payroll & payroll functions
  • Learn about the challenges of AI adoption and  deployment in the HR Environment
  • Appreciate how AI is a catalyst for new working methods and organizational methods
  • Learn why and how HR leaders will have to embrace AI  quickly
  • Get Case studies on how Self-service chatbots are managing shared services
  • Explore case studies on how AI is influencing HR in leading global as well as local companies


Deep Learning Meetup, Cape Town, 20 February 2018 

Cape Town Deep Learning Meetup on 20 February 2018 at Zoona's offices just off Kloof Street, 4-32 Darters Rd, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001

Topic: Deep Neural Networks for Sequence Modeling (Language + Time Series)

Presenter: Alex Conway, Numberboost, CTO

Modeling language is hard. There are long-running dependencies with ideas that can span paragraphs and we also have to deal with the intricacies of expression including sarcasm, ambiguity and polysemy. There have been many remarkable results in computer vision - for example ImageNet where the state of the art has been beaten and the algorithms are more accurate than humans. Computer vision is also inherently easier to grasp because it is visual and the most common representation - “convolution" - is easy to visualize. The first obvious question when modeling language is how to represent it numerically so that you can fit a model. One topic that we will focus on is semantic vector spaces and Word2Vec. Then when we consider how to advance beyond a simple “bag of words” model that ignores word order, we will consider that language is actually a sequence (like time series) and we can apply deep learning models that perform well on sequences such as recurrent neural networks (LSTMs and GRUs) and 1-dimensional convolutional neural networks that do “backpropagation through time” to build powerful language and time series models. The talk will include code samples and practical examples. 



DataCon Africa 2018, CTICC, Cape Town, 26-28 February 2018 

Corinium has been bringing the South African data analytics community together since 2016 through conferences and roundtable discussions. In February 2018 it's Cape Town's turn to get together to discuss and debate the future of data analytics. Apart from MIIA being a media partner for this event, we also have members from the MIIA community presenting at this event.

DataCon Africa 2018 will feature case studies on practical uses cases of data analytics and data science as well as in-depth discussions on key topics:

  • Building a data-driven enterprise for information led decision making
  • Establishing a sustainable data governance framework
  • The impact of advanced analytics on future business performance
  • Developing a highly effective data analytics business unit

DataCon Africa 2018 already features speakers from industries such as online gaming, microcredit, fintech and telecoms.


See also the agenda and format for more details about this event.


Building AlphaZero AI using Python and Keras, MIIA Cape Town Meetup, Cape Town, 15 March 2018 

MIIA has scheduled an event where it will showcase the Building AlphaZero AI using Python and Keras in Cape Town on15 March 2018. Cortex Logic is one of the sponsors. Other interested sponsors can email us at

  • Building your own AlphaZero AI using Python and Keras
  • Teach a machine to learn Connect4 strategy through self-play and deep learning
  • Why AlphaZero is a massive step forward for Artificial Intelligence
  • How you can build a replica of the AlphaZero methodology to play the game Connect4 or Metasquare



SatRday, Cape Town, 17 March 2018 

The R community and some of South Africa's most forward thinking companies have come together to bring satRday back to Cape Town. This conference provides an opportunity to hear from and network with top Researchers, Data Scientists and Developers from the R community in South Africa and beyond.



SABEC 2018, 3rd SA Biomedical Engineering Conference 2018, Spier wine Estate, Stellenbosch, 4-6 April 2018 

MIIA will be represented at the 3rd SA Biomedical Engineering Conference 2018, via a keynote address by Dr Jacques Ludik.  This conference takes a new approach in combining theory and research with the development, industrialization and commercialization of these ideas to showcase not only what can be done but give you insight into the Stellenbosch Biomedical Engineering Ideation Engine.

Biomedical Engineering is a progressive and exciting field aimed at improving or solving health-related problems through multidisciplinary fields such as Physics, Mathematics, Sciences and Engineering at the intersections of Biology, Medicine and Health Sciences. There remains huge potential for innovation and human capacity building in this field not only in South Africa, but in Africa and globally. Hence, we are broadening our scope and inviting those from Industry to join in what is to become the premier Biomedical Engineering Conference in Africa.

The Conference will be held on 4 – 6 April 2018 in collaboration with the IEEE EMBS, the IEEE South Africa Section, the IEEE EMBS South Africa Chapter and Stellenbosch University.



Deep Learning IndabaX, UCT, Cape Town, 6 April 2018 

We welcome everyone interested in AI, machine learning and deep learning to attend the Indaba X. Communication will be spread through existing meetup groups, the Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa (MIIA) social channels, University (UCT and Stellenbosch) departments, work networks, and society channels to reach people from all backgrounds and communities. We have a few sponsors, but welcome other interested sponsors to email us at

Agenda: The Deep Learning IndabaX Western Cape will be a condensed version of the Indaba with several 1-hour presentations including quick Jupyter notebook applications to real world problems:

  • 0900 - Welcome   
  • 0915 - Deep Learning Fundamentals   
  • 1030 - Computer Vision (CNNs)   
  • 1145 - Natural Language Processing (RNNs)   
  • 1300 - Light Lunch & Networking
  • 1400 - Reinforcement Learning   
  • 1515 - Industry Applications of Deep Learning   [Lightning Talks]
  • 1630 - Panel on how to Spread Knowledge and Capacity in ML   
  • 1730 - Closing 
  • 1800 - Drinks & Networking

Location: Statistics Department, University of Cape Town


Other IndabaX events throughout Africa during the 26 March - 6 April 2018 period includes:


Opportunities and Pitfalls in Machine Learning and AI, Sandton, 18 April 2018 

MIIA's next event in the Johannesburg area (Sandton) is scheduled to be about the topic of Opportunities and Pitfalls in Machine Learning and AI on 18 April 2018. We welcome interested sponsors and/or participants to email us at

  • Introduction by Dr Jacques Ludik
  • Panel Discussion by Data Science, Machine Learning & AI practitioners and industry experts



Rise to the Challenge: Opportunities and Pitfalls in Machine Learning and AI, Rise Cape Town, Woodstock Exchange, Cape Town, 25 April 2018 

Rise Cape Town (created by Barclays) and MIIA has joined forces with respect to the event Rise to the Challenge: Opportunities and Pitfalls in Machine Learning and AI, which will be hosted at Rise Cape Towns's premises at Woodstock Exchange, Cape Town on 25 April 2018 from 10am-12pm. We welcome interested sponsors and/or participants to email us at

  • Introduction by Dr Jacques Ludik
  • Panel Discussion by Data Science, Machine Learning & AI practitioners and industry experts



AIExpo Africa 2018, Cape Town, 9-11 September 2018

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is happening NOW with emerging technology breakthroughs in a range of fields, including robotic automation, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, IoT, 3D printing and self driving vehicles. Research on the impact of AI reveals that AI could double annual economic growth rates in 2035 by changing the nature of work and creating a new relationship between man and machine.

AI ExpoAfrica 2018 is focusing on real world applications & trends driving the AI Economy in Africa & wider global economy, exploring the AI Business Opportunity NOW and seeking to build an AI Business focused Community in Africa.  Enjoy a packed 2 day program, with 400 delegates, 27 Speakers, 5 Keynotes, Exhibition & Innovation Cafe. 

The audience is comprised of CxO / Enterprise decision makers allied to AI Cloud platform providers, Tier 1 / 2 deployment & service providers, AI start ups / innovators, investors, educators, government and AI ecosystem community builders. With 6 themes and 3 tracks, you will learn about real Enterprise AI case studies and the application of AI in Business TODAY, available technology and platforms, deployment challenges, ethics and skills plus innovation and research driving current business trends.

Twitter: @aiexpoafrica

Facebook: @aiexpoafrica 

LinkedIn: AI Expo Africa Group




Deep Learning Indaba, Stellenbosch University, 9-15 September 2018

Strengthening African Machine Learning 

Deep Learning Indaba, Stellenbosch, South Africa: 10-15 September 2018. 

The Deep Learning Indaba exists to celebrate and strengthen machine learning in Africa through state-of-the-art teaching, networking, policy debate, and through our support programmes, such as the IndabaX and the Kambule and Maathai awards. We work towards the vision of Africans becoming critical contributors, owners, and shapers of the coming advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning. We need visionary partners to help realise this vision; we need your help! In 2018 we increase our commitment to African machine learning with an ambitious programme that will almost double our participation and significantly


Application (opening in March 2018): 


 You can apply either as a student or as a general attendee.

  • Students should be 4th-year/honours, MSc, PhD, or postdoc level.
  • General attendees include academics, research scientists at startups or industry, and engineers in data science fields. 

You should apply if you have:

  • An active interest in machine learning, artificial intelligence, statistics, data science, or related computational sciences (e.g., statistical physics, computational neuroscience, computational social science, etc).
  • Basic programming experience in Python or Matlab (if you’ve completed an undergrad assignment that involved coding, you should be fine!).
  • Basic (undergraduate) knowledge of calculus, linear algebra, probability theory and statistics. See the description of background topics for pointers and further details.


Data Science Nigeria

Data Science Nigeria 2018 Plans

ThemeBig Data for Digital/Financial Inclusion

Innovating for the next billions requires a different analytical mindset and engagement approaches. The drive towards the achievement of the millennium development goals requires a need-based deployment of machine learning and artificial intelligence methodologies in ways that address fundamental socio-economic issues with significant local content.

Big Data is not an end in itself but a mean to solving complex social puzzles; demystifying underlying behavioural drivers buried in unstructured data, identifying multi-attribute alternative data when traditional data are absent, articulating the non-obvious insight due to digital divide or illiteracy and simplifying engagement channels in the natural language of the target audience via speech-based chatbots and USSD interface. This is the path to achieving Prof C.K. Prahalad’s 4As of penetrating the bottom of the pyramid (Awareness, Access, Affordability and Availability) and the Niti Bhan’s 5Ds (Development, Design, Demand, Distribution and Dignity) of integrating the socially excluded.

2018 is therefore dedicated to an exploration into the world of the underserved, unserved, digi-phobias, digital aliens, thin-file invisible customers and the over 50% in the critical mass through an intelligent use of machine learning and big data (structured, unstructured, audio, video or text).

January 2018

February 2018

March 2018

  • Industry Best Practice Showcase
  • Big Data/AI for Marketing/Sales/Customer Service Excellence for CMOs/Marketing/Sales/Channel Director, Marketing Managers, Brand Directors, Media Directors/Managers, Digital/Event/Sponsorship/Shopper Managers, Strategy Heads, Business Development Managers, Advertising Agency Strategy/Business Directors etc.
  • Release of Nigeria Sociographics Report for 2017
  • An extensive use of natural language processing to understand what shaped consumption, social sentiment, consumer confidence and which brands are well situated within these domains of social influence using social footprint analysis (Google search, social/media and blog comments and tweets)

April 2018

  • Kaggle competition 2- Image classification

May 1st 2018:

  • Kick off of Inter-University Machine Learning/Data Science Competition

June- August 2018

  • Campus visit for awareness and competition

July 2018

  • Kaggle competition 3 – Risk assessment in the high-risk segment
  • Data Science Africa Conference in Abuja

October 8-9

  • Executive Masterclass Big Data/Machine Learning/AI class
  • Everything Executives must know on Big Data, Machine Learning and AI in simple language of business impact and how to articulate an executive data strategy/vision for a company
  • For C-level and strategic decision makers

October 10

  • Big Data Economy Summit
  • Focus: Big Data for Digital/Financial Inclusion
  • Release of DSN multiple-variable Credit Scoring algorithm project (psychometrics, social media, online footprint, on-device mobile behaviour, social context, macro influences etc.)

October 10-15

  • Bootcamp and Hackathon
  • Focus: Deep Learning, NLP and chatbot development
  • Hackathon on multiple-variable Credit Scoring algorithm development (psychometrics, social media, online footprint, on-device mobile behaviour, social context, macro influences etc.)

November 2018

  • Kick of Data Science Nigeria Academy partnership programme

December 2018

  • Launch of Data Scientists on Demand programme.
  • Selection of PhD/Masters and volunteer research to work on 3 major
  • Advisory Board Meeting


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