The Maathai Impact Award encourages and recognises work by African innovators that shows impactful application (including but not limited to technical, societal,  environmental, and economic) of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

This award reinforces the legacy of Wangari Maathai in acknowledging the capacity of individuals to be a positive force for change: by recognising ideas and initiatives that demonstrate that each of us, no matter how small, can make a difference.

The award will be presented at the annual Deep Learning Indaba in September 2024. We welcome applications from individuals, teams and organisations themselves, or nominations by third parties.


  • The award is open to individuals, teams, or organisations.
  • Impactful work in both academic and non-academic settings is eligible for this award.
  • The Awards Committee considers impactful work to be broadly defined as any work — technological, social, environmental or economic — that has had, or has the potential to positively transform specific African societies and communities. There are many ways to have an impact, and we hope that those who will submit nominations/self-nominations will be generous and creative in their judgement of the term ‘innovation’. Examples could include:
    • A research paper that shows important results using machine learning to solve important problems that address food security.
    • The work of an African startup using machine learning, whose work is set to have positive impact or demonstrate technical excellence in their focus area.
    • An individual who has shown a track record of empowering individuals and groups affected or involved with machine learning.
    • Government agencies or individuals contributing positively to the policy and society conversations around machine learning and artificial intelligence.
    • An African non-profit organisation that empowers African innovators through skills development or mentoring.
    • An established business or startup that has deployed machine learning in an innovative way to positively impact their local communities or society at large.
    • Civil society, tech journalists, or community organisers doing grassroot work to empower and advance responsible AI research and practice. 
    • Work focused on environmental or ecological protection in a specific African context or location.
    • Scholarship that utilises technology to educate about, showcase, or preserve African culture, language and history. 
  • Nominations can be sent by anyone, including individuals and organisations themselves.
  • Nominations are welcomed from any African country.
  • All supporting letters and reports can be in any language. For letters and reports written in other languages, English translations should be supplied.

Applications are now Open

Nominations are now open! To nominate a candidate or apply for the awards, follow the instructions

  • Application deadline: 21st March 2024
  • Shortlist selection: 30 June 2024
  • The award will be presented at the annual Deep Learning Indaba in September 2024.

Selection Criteria

Nominations will be reviewed to assess the breadth of potential impact they have had, their role in strengthening African machine learning and artificial intelligence, the ability to support and uphold the legacy of Wangari Maathai, and the strength of the supporting letters.

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