We have an Indaba (gathering) ‘refresh meeting’ every year to reconnect and refocus as a group. This is the Indaba’s Indaba, and I get the chance to put forward a new vision for us as a working group each year. For 2023, we used Kwame Nkruma’s famous line from his 1960 speech, We face neither East nor West. We face forward. And that is what we have been hard at work thinking about and doing since we met in Tunis, as we continue to Strengthen African Machine Learning and AI. Also, the deadline to apply for this year’s Indaba is fast approaching.

We face forward is appropriate as a motto, not just for us as an organisation, but for us all, wherever we find ourselves across our continent and beyond. We have entered a period with challenging global economic conditions, diminished leadership, and reversals in progress in our key priorities like the SDGs. AI is often put forward as a potential aid to the global challenges we are facing, and the Indaba aims to support capacity building and education to support that vision. But AI continues to be a fast moving field, and global players, as history tells us, will rarely put the concerns of Africans at the forefront of new developments and impacts. Knowing this, the work of building stronger community networks and cooperation, new ways of sharing knowledge and expertise, advancing research, and supporting its translation into the real world – all the intended impacts of the Indaba’s work – is more important now than it has ever been. We have a section below on things we’ve been reading, and as you’ll see, there are always researchers and new organisations being created and working to address these challenges.

In practice, this means that the key challenge facing the Indaba is in raising and funding our long-term educational and charity work. Our call to you is to share the work of the Indaba and make connections to those who might be able to support our work financially. We are excited to be in Ghana this year and this newsletter will give updates each month on our programmes and progress. Use your networks to share our prospectus and invite new organisations to join the Indaba in Ghana as sponsors.

The idea for the Indaba grew from a conversation at the end of 2016, and each year and every new country has meant that we need to change the way we are structured as an organisation. We are excited that we’ve reached one key milestone that by the end of this year we will have taken the Indaba to North, West, East and Southern Africa. And along the way we will have helped create AI communities in 36 countries across our continent. We have a much more structured set of committees who bring the Indaba to life and are already hard at work as they report below – and I am thankful, grateful and inspired by them and the work they do to Strengthen African Machine Learning and AI. We will also be making changes to the Board of Trustees and our founding charter to better support our work as we grow. More updates on this in the months to come.

Thank you for being a supporter of the Indaba. This newsletter will be sent out monthly and you can expect to get more regular updates on the Indaba’s work and progress, other things to get involved in, funding opportunities, latest news affecting our continent, and more. We’d love to hear from you, and if you have any suggestions, then please get in touch with us at ideas@deeplearningindaba.com. Until next month, enjoy the newsletter.

We Face Forward.

-Shakir Mohamed, Co-founder and Chair of the Board for the Deep Learning Indaba. Feb 2023.