Ministry of ICT and NG and Sunbird AI sign a Memorandum of Understanding that will help Uganda leapfrog the traditional constraints of infrastructure

Sunbird's AI's flagship project, the Sunbird Translate system is built through an open local language database of 25,000 sentences translated across 6 commonly spoken languages in Uganda which are English, Acholi, Ateso, Luganda, Lugbara and Runyankole.

Jan 23, 2023 - 15:56
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Ministry of ICT and NG and Sunbird AI sign a Memorandum of Understanding that will help Uganda leapfrog the traditional constraints of infrastructure
Ministry of ICT and NG and Sunbird AI sign a Memorandum of Understanding that will help Uganda leapfrog the traditional constraints of infrastructure

KAMPALA - Aminah Zawedde permanent secretary of the Uganda Ministry of ICT and National Guidance said she is honored to sign a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance and Sunbird AI to leverage Artificial Intelligence to drive the ICT innovation agenda across Uganda.

There have been many AI powered technologies in the various disciplines such as health, economics and even agriculture, our nations backbone. There are risks from naively importing technologies( and technology policy) to Uganda which were developed without the ownership of the communities that will be affected by them, and may not be compatible with the local context and needs. AI has the potential to help Uganda leapfrog the traditional constraints of infrastructure to improve citizen's wellbeing. The Ministry of ICT and NG is leading the effort in providing strategic direction through the 4IR strategy in accordance with NDPIII.

Sunbird AI a not-for-profit which focuses on developing open-source, practical, African centered systems for public good with a focus on policy primarily working with partners to use data technology to improve planning, policy, decision making, and strengthening the feedback loop between citizens and policy makers.

Sunbird's AI's flagship project, the Sunbird Translate system is built through an open local language database of 25,000 sentences translated across 6 commonly spoken languages in Uganda which are English, Acholi, Ateso, Luganda, Lugbara and Runyankole. The system uses state of the art accuracy to translate and unlike any comparable dataset. Sunbird developed this to include a range of locally relevant topics eg in healthcare, agriculture and society.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sunbird supported the Ministry of Health(MoH) in monitoring public perception of their COVID-19 response. Social Media and Radio are rich potential sources of data, but over 50 languages are spoken in Uganda, of which only English is supported by the common translation and analysis tools that the developed world uses. Sunbird collected representative, inclusive Ugandan language datasets, and trained machine learning models with them that were then used to generate social media analysis for the MoH team.

The system is pivoting from its original tact-text format to text-speech. A key use case for Sunbird translate includes easing citizen service delivery through ensuring information is easily comprehended by those it is intended for.

Sunbird has in the recent past partnered with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development in conjunction with the German Agency for International Cooperation(GIZ) in implementing the National Electrification Strategy(NES) which provides a strategy aimed at connecting 10 million households to the most optimal energy source by 2030. Sunbird developed an AI based open data site identification system to increase the accuracy of planning assumptions of selections for renewable energy sites and energy source options in Lamwo district using machine learning to automate the determination of optimal electrification strategies.

This partnership focuses on collaboration services related to ICT disciplines that are core to supporting innovations across the board. As the convergence of ICT is increasingly expanding, the Ministry of ICT and NG recognizes the importance of partnerships and collaborations for leveraging resources, building power, strengthening the digital skills for the future, expansion of connectivity and achieving equitable and affordable digital inclusion.

"It is my great pleasure to partner with Sunbird AI as the first of its kind organization focused on practical AI systems for public good with a focus on policy in our context. The Ministry pledges its support to Sunbird AI since they are Ugandan in the spirit of promoting Build Uganda, Buy Uganda(BUBU)," according to Aminah Zawedde.

John Kusolo John Kusolo, a Ugandan Journalist, Sport fanatic, Tourist, Pastor, and Motivational Speaker. I am passionate about my work. Because I love what I do, I have a steady source of motivation that drives me to do my best. I am ambitious and driven. I thrive on challenge and constantly set goals for myself, so I have something to strive toward. Socials: John Kusolo on facebook and Twitter.