The Kambule dissertation award recognises and encourages excellence in research and writing by doctoral candidates at African universities, in any area of computational and statistical sciences.

The Kambule award celebrates African research excellence: its recipients are those that uphold Thamsanqa Kambule’s legacy as a defender of learning, a seeker of knowledge, and activist for equality.

The award will be presented at the annual Deep Learning Indaba in September 2018. We welcome nominations from both students themselves, and their supervisors and mentors.

The winner will be awarded a trophy, a cash prize of at least ZAR 10,000, will travel to speak at the Deep Learning Indaba in South Africa, and will travel to Oxford to participate in the Oxford-Africa Initiative’s Insaka meeting.


  • PhD theses in the broad area of computational and statistical sciences will be eligible. This includes, but is not restricted to: machine learning, deep learning, artificial intelligence, statistics, probability, data science, information theory, econometrics, optimisation, statistical physics, biostatistics and bioinformatics, natural language processing, computer vision, and computational neuroscience.
  • The Awards Committee interprets the phrase “PhD thesis” to mean a dissertation in final form, i.e. approved by the student’s examinations board, e.g., viva examinations completed, public defence completed, corrected version submitted, or degree awarded.
  • The nominee must have been registered as a student and received their degree from an African university.
  • A dissertation may be nominated by the author, an academic who is in a position to comment on the merits of the work and the candidate (e.g., PhD supervisor, thesis examiner, academic mentor, collaborators), a department chair or head of department.
  • Theses completed during the period of 2015-2018 are eligible for nomination.
  • Nominations are welcomed from any African country.
  • The thesis can be in any language, although the Awards Committee may require English translations for full consideration of theses written in other languages.
  • All supporting letters and reports should be in English (or a translation supplied).

Next Deadline

30 April 2018, 11:59pm, Central African Time (CAT).

Selection Criteria

Dissertations will be reviewed for technical depth and significance of the research contribution, potential impact on theory and practice, quality of presentation, and its role in strengthening African machine learning.


  • Nomination is made by completing an online nomination form, which also includes electronic submission of the dissertation. We recommended that dissertations be written in English (the Awards Committee may require an English translation for full consideration of theses written in other languages).
  • ​A supporting letter that describes the main theoretical, methodological, and/or applied contributions of the thesis .
    • This supporting letter should be written by an academic who is in a position to comment on the merits of the work and the candidate, e.g., PhD supervisor, thesis examiner, academic mentor, collaborators, etc.
    • The letter should be written by someone other than the person who is nominating the candidate.
    • This nominating letters should be written in English, and submitted electronically in pdf format, using the ‘submit supporting letter’ or this form.
  • If the examiners’ reports are available, these should also be submitted.

Further Questions and Contact

If you have any questions, or need clarification on any part of this call for nominations, don’t hesitate to contact us at