Gender diversity and equity in the AI ecosystem: an SLR of African languages

Project Goal

This project aims to examine the current state of representation of African local languages in the global AI ecosystem, identify challenges and explore potential opportunities for AI in Africa.

Project’s summary 

Artificial intelligence has greatly transformed the way businesses operate across all industries, and natural language processing plays a crucial role in representing identity, observations, and ideas from high-level theories to the machine's everyday functions. Many successful digital organizations have achieved their success through the collection of data in written, verbal, and visual forms. However, most African local languages are under-resourced, which has hindered Africans from taking advantage of AI opportunities. To ensure Africa's participation and benefits in the global AI ecosystem, decisive action is needed from policymakers, human resource development, private sector involvement, and fostering innovation. This study aims to examine the current state of African local language representation in the global AI ecosystem, identify challenges, and explore potential opportunities for AI in Africa.

Project leader’s name  Natnael Tilahun

Natnael Tilahun is an accomplished individual with a strong academic and professional background in Computer Science and Software Engineering. He holds a BSc in Computer Science and IT, and an MSc in Software Engineering with a specialization in Computer Vision through Deep Learning. Natnael has accumulated over four years of valuable professional experience, excelling in various roles and projects. His achievements have earned him recognition and awards, solidifying his reputation for exceptional problem-solving abilities, creativity, and leadership. Fueled by a passion for Artificial Intelligence, Natnael is dedicated to advancing the field and pursuing ambitious goals. Currently, he serves as a lecturer and researcher at AASTU, making significant contributions to academia and research. Additionally, Natnael holds a part-time position as the department head of Computer Science at the American College of Technology (ACT).

Team members 

Asrat Mulatu Beyene received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from Addis Ababa University, School of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and IT Doctoral Program, respectively. Currently, he is working as Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of Addis Ababa Science and Technology University.

His research interest spans data science, secured distributed systems and hardware software co-design, among others. He has published on numerous conference proceedings and journal publications. Besides, he is currently serving as ICT Executive Officer of the University since 2020 and President of Internet Society Ethiopian Chapter.

Dr. Beakal Gizachew Beakal Gizachew Assefa received the Ph.D. degree in computer science and engineering from Koç University in 2019, where he was a Teaching and Research Assistant. He is currently an Assistant Professor with the Department of Software Engineering, Addis Ababa Institute of Technology Addis Ababa University. He is also chair of the Artificial Intelligence program. He has published impactful publications in internationally reputable journals where has also served as a chair and technical program committee member in several international conferences. He is also awarded as an outstanding reviewer of the year 2017 by Elsevier. He is also the chair of the Ethiopian National Artificial Intelligence policy development task force.

Institution’s description 

AASTU was founded in 2011 by admitting the first batch (2000 students) in November 2011. Located on the north-eastern industrial corridor of Addis Ababa, AASTU is one of the youngest and dynamic national Science and Technology Universities of Ethiopia where cutting-edge scientific researches, technological innovations and educational excellence have been taking place over the last ten years. The vision of AASTU is to be internationally recognized hub of science and technology that will have a significant national and continental impact by 2030 and its mission includes : 

  • Delivering world-class education and training programs in nationally priority research areas and key economic sectors ;
  •  Conducting problem-solving high-impact research to support the productivity and competitiveness of local industries and business institutions ;
  • Improving the technical and managerial capabilities of local industries and businesses.
  • Improving the technical and managerial capabilities of local industries and businesses.