We are releasing our annual report that provides a high-level overview of the work of the Indaba over 2023. We share this as a record of the work of the Indaba, as a form of accountability to our beneficiaries and donors, and as a source of lessons for other organisations like ours. Please read and share any feedback with us.

The 2023 annual Deep Learning Indaba represents the culmination of a multi-year plan to build a vibrant and transformative African organisation that would strengthen African AI; it also represents a dream come true. As we gathered on the campus of the University of Ghana, we reached a key milestone of having taken the gathering of African AI to all parts of the continent, having begun in Southern Africa, and then having moved to East Africa, North Africa, and now finally, in West Africa.

Our planning for this year was guided by the words of Kwame Nkrumah, and his rallying directive that “We look neither east nor west. We look forward.”  Looking forward for us meant a continued focus on our education, learning and community mission, and a focus on setting the Indaba up for future success. This meant enhancing the Indaba’s organisation and governance, as well as continued experimentation and investment in innovations that have come to be expected from the Indaba. Together we continued to strengthen our key programmes, and experimented with new ways of strengthening African Machine Learning.

Our work for 2023 took place with the backdrop of a volatile and uncertain economic and technological environment. This included general inflationary concerns and specific ways they impact African countries and citizens (and specifically for us, in Ghana); the changing appetites and ability of donors to engage in charitable funding; a changing technical landscape in which Generative AI became established as a key global topic; the full exposure of extractive and harmful practices related to data enrichment work, especially the costs to workers across Africa; and changes in the international AI governance landscape, concerns of global safety, and the pace of AI progress. 

Together these created several demands on how the Indaba should respond, which remains to ensure that Africans are owners and shapers of ongoing advances in AI. They made clear the importance of our work, and the focus on introductory and advanced AI education, local and high-impact research, convening Africa’s AI community, and the need to connect ideas and networks. In achieving this, we hosted the largest annual Indaba to date, created new publications streams, supported new leadership through community-proposed workshops, awarded excellence, stimulated new ideas and outputs, included hackathons, mentorship sessions, and cultural celebration, and showcased the power of a community committed to taking control of its own future.

The Indaba was officially registered as charity, supporting our status and legitimacy as a world-leading community-based AI organisation and establishing the governance structures that will match the growth and maturity the Indaba now needs as it opens new chapters in its work. There continue to be new opportunities ahead in how we convene and support AI research and education across the continent, and we remain as committed as we were when the idea of the first Indaba was formed in 2016. The theme of the 2023 Indaba is most apt in this regard, Yebetumi – We Can!

See the full report here and share feedback at ideas@deeplearningindaba.com. For regular updates on our work sign up to our newsletter, and support our work by connecting us with donors and funders.