Africa has over 2000 languages. Despite this, African languages account for a tiny portion of available resources and publications in Natural Language Processing (NLP). This is due to multiple factors, including a lack of focus from government and funding, discoverability, a lack of community, sheer language complexity, difficulty in reproducing papers, and no benchmarks to compare techniques. To begin to address the identified problems, MASAKHANE, an open-source, continent-wide, distributed, online research effort for NLP for African languages, was founded. This talk will introduce you to the movement itself, it's goals, it's progress, and show how easy it is to contribute and join the community.
Jade Abbott is a Machine Learning engineer at Retro Rabbit. She's built software for every field from social upliftment to banking, working on projects throughout Africa. Her current project involves training and deploying deep learning system to perform a variety of NLP tasks for real-life systems - from training the models to scaling them in production. In her free time, she does ML research on Machine Translation for African languages.