Our interview with young African ladies shooting for the stars with AI

We caught up with our first Alliance4ai chapter in Ghana this past week and received very exciting news. Megan, Sharon and Leticia, the leaders of the chapter in their A-level program had just received scholarships to study at prestigious universities in Africa and America. We felt especially proud that some of the 12 members of the chapter chose to have a focus in artificial intelligence while they are in university.

They are truly going to lead in tomorrow’s world. 

These ladies come from many African countries to attend Africa Science Academy in Ghana, an international A-level school put together by the awe-inspiring Tom Ilube to prepare the most intelligent girls on the continent to reach their fullest potentials. We decided to bring our chapter learning program here first because the students and administration are already poised to push boundaries and lead.

For context, Africa is a continent where the standard teaching curriculums and practices have not evolved in 40 years, so it continues to produce people who are not armed with the skills and knowledge to contribute meaningfully to today’s workforce. 

Our Alliance4ai chapter program seeks to accomplish three things for learners in the ecosystem

  1. Cultivate the African mind to build a strong identity and poise to innovate for the collective, informed by Africa’s history of innovation
  2. develop critical thinking, team-building and problem-solving capabilities, and
  3. arm them with knowledge of cutting-edge technologies like AI so they can design world-class solutions resilient in what is continually called, the future of work
After each capability you pick up, you are empowered to deliver on important items useful to the future of work

Megan and her 10 friends who immersed themselves in the Alliance4ai chapter program for the 2019/2020 school session went through a series of enlightenment, respect for Africa’s innovation and a now growing desire to apply AI to solving meaningful problems.

Here’s a look at our interview with them:

When did you introduce the chapter to your school?

We started our school’s Alliance4ai chapter in November 2019

How many times a week do you engage with the content?

We met once a week.

How long does the program go for?

Since our A-level program lasts for a year, we participate in it for less than a year. But we are happy that we can continue to remain part of the African community, to learn and build things.

What were the two most important things you learned?

The few times we got to have meetings due to tight schedule, we were able to identify real life  problems. For Example,we discussed a problem we noticed in google maps whereby it doesn’t know when one has got to the end of a route and we were giving suggestions on how we can improve that.

We also got to learn a lot as we took time to discuss Africans contributing to AI.

What did you believe before joining that has changed now?

I had no idea Africans were involved in AI, I thought it was just an American or Chinese thing. After getting exposed to the Alliance4ai material, my classmates and I now have a strong appreciation for African innovation for many centuries, and AI startups that exist even in Ghana today. I am motivated to learn more AI and use it.

How has your experience in the chapter influence your time in university or your future career

I have received a scholarship to study intelligent system engineering at Indiana State university in America! I am going to learn more AI, and show them that African ladies can build important things.

What was your favorite topic?

Most of the topics were very interesting but I loved the topic on Africa’s contributions to AI and Why Africa must adopt AI.

What was your least favorite topic?

None really 

What would you improve?

In the future, we would like to delve more into solving problems by doing more practical courses.

Improve sessions by introducing industrial experts to engage more with us.

What advice do you have for the next set of girls attending ASA?

I learned a lot after joining the AI club. I believe AI will influence my future by actually directing me to the right path and now I know I can make a difference in the world.

I would like to advise the next set of girls to join to take the AI club more seriously. They should encourage each other and make the sessions more practical and lively. We are moving to the fourth industrial revolution. We are all part of it and the changes will affect us all.

We are proud of these girls and wish them success as they continue their journeys.

Artificial Intelligence is quickly becoming the deciding factor of success in the future and for that we need to prepare by engaging our people early. We encourage you to write blogs to tell your own stories about artificial intelligence, stories people around you can relate to. You can reach out to us on admin@alliance4ai.org to host your writing on our blog channel.

And if you have young people interested in learning and getting empowered like Sharon, Agness and Leticia above, reach out to see if starting your own Alliance4ai chapter is the path for you.


About the Author

Rose Delilah Gesicho is a gregarious individual who geeks out about data. She has a background in Data Science and she is very passionate about Artificial Intelligence and community development. She is a program coordinator for the Nairobi Women In Machine Learning and Data Science. She aims to build a large community of data enthusiasts to help solve Africa problems using Artificial Intelligence.

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