Did you know machine learning is behind a vast of technologies that we use today? Including online search, Netflix recommendations, natural language processing and many others.
Muthoni Wanyoike, the team lead at Instadeep Kenya and an Actuarial Science graduate from Dedan Kimathi University of tech is one of the great brains behind the Women in Machine Learning and Data Science community Nairobi chapter, (WiMLDS) Kenya.
“When I started the Nairobi chapter of WiMLDS, I was just starting out in Data Science at the ICT Authority’s Kenya Open Data Initiative. I was really looking for a community where I would gain new skills and also connect with people with the same interest as well as those already in the industry,” says Muthoni
Muthoni, however, admits setting up a community was not easy. At first, they organized meetups where they would charge participants to attend sessions on data science and machine learning with an abundance of Faith that attendees would believe in their vision.
Since Sep 2, 2016, WiMLDS has hosted over 23 meetups in partnership with organisations such as Google, through the Google Developer Ecosystems programme in Sub-Saharan Africa, Africa’s Talking, Moringa School, the Busara Centre for Behavioral Economics and ILRI’s BECA hub.
They have also hosted hundreds of AI enthusiasts, with up to 75% women participation in Beginner and intermediate Data Science courses in Python and R.
The community offers a wide range of sessions, from a quarterly series on Tensorflow to a Masterclass in Data Science in R and will soon offer Python, a fireside chat series with various global AI leads such as Omoju Miller – Senior Machine Learning data scientist at Github, Billy Okal – Senior research engineer at Voyage and Sara Hooker, an AI Resident at Google Brain among many other remarkable global leaders in AI among many other initiatives led by volunteers within the community.
While Muthoni admits that a successful community involves a lot of trials and errors, she also adds that a diverse team which brings different skills set and abilities to the table contributes immensely to the growth and success of a community.
Nairobi WiMLDS is also co-organized by Kathleen Siminyu, Head of data science Africa’s Talking and Deepali Gholil who handles the community’s Growth and Strategic planning. Deepali ensures the community remains true to its core vision by analyzing past workshops and figuring out perfect strategies that would lead to mapping growth.
The Future progression?
“The future of AI in Africa is very exciting! AI is revolutionizing critical aspects of our day to day lives! Google recently announced that they will be launching their first AI research lab in Ghana, AIMS will now be providing an African Masters in Machine Intelligence, initiatives such as Data Science Africa, Black in AI and the Deep Learning Indaba are making great contributions towards strengthening AI in Africa and we couldn’t be happier to be part of the revolution. We will continue to provide the Kenyan community with world-class opportunities and access to resources to advance their skills and experiences and are very excited about the potential of AI in Kenya and beyond,” Muthoni Wayoike concludes.