The coronavirus pandemic has spread across the world, and its effects are being felt across our continent, with 16 people already having died from Covid-19 in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and Sudan. The Indaba leadership has been tracking the development of the coronavirus and given the seriousness and uncertainty regarding the spread of the virus, have decided, with great sadness, to cancel all in-person Indaba events for the rest of the year. As a result:
- The calls for the IndabaX will be withdrawn. We have asked all organisers not to hold in-person events, and for them to use their leadership to encourage greater social distancing in their communities.
- We will also be cancelling the Annual Indaba that was to be held in August 2020 in Tunis. Depending on how the pandemic evolves over the next few months, we may still host an annual Indaba this year in the final quarter of the year. But failing that, reconvene in 2021.
This is a disappointing outcome for many of us since, after 4 years, the African AI community is stronger than we could have imagined. Our annual meeting is a place where we get the feeling of a family coming together after a long time apart. But this does not stop our efforts as an Indaba foundation.
Coronavirus Response Opportunities
We encourage everyone to stay safe, and practice social distancing and other recommended health measures (check Africa CDC for a trusted source of resources). By everyone doing their part we can help slow the spread of the virus.
In our community, we also have the opportunity to bring together people with many different skills and ideas to collectively help tackle this pandemic. Some efforts are underway to help collect coronavirus data on the continent, and we encourage everyone to contribute code and data – for example, check out this project: https://github.com/dsfsi/covid19africa.
There are already several global efforts underway to collect ideas for projects at helpwithcovid. If you have any ideas how we can help as an organization (or ideas specific to the African context), let us know by reaching out with the subject corona-ideas to info-at-deeplearningindaba.com.
Virtual Indaba Events
Although we won’t meet in person this year, we will instead work to create several types of virtual and online events, and a focus on mentoring and research exchange across the continent. We will release details of these as soon as we can. And if you have any creative ideas for virtually strengthening African machine learning, please let us know by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org
You’ll notice that from today, we also have a new website to support our growing mission. This new website is accessible to more countries across our continent, addressing a major issue with our older website. It also allows more people to edit it, allowing IndabaX organisers and many others to edit its content, making the Indaba website something that truly belongs to everyone. We’ll continue to update its content, and make the content from previous years available.
The pandemic has changed the course of this year’s effort as an Indaba community but does not stop our effort. Let’s continue to strengthen African AI.
Remember, We Build Together. Masakhane!