Unilag soars at Africa Inter-university Machine Learning Competition

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By Chinyere Nwachukwu

Lagos – Students of the University of Lagos Artificial Intelligence Club have emerged Nigeria’s champions at the 2020 edition of the Inter-University Machine Learning Hackathon Competition.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the competition was tagged UmojaHack.
It was organised by Zindi Africa and had 72 universities drawn from African countries.
A total of 796 teams participated.
Zindi Africa is a South Africa-based organisation that promotes learning and artificial intelligence.
Dr Victor Odumuyiwa, Staff Adviser of the University of Lagos team, told NAN on Saturday in Lagos that the essence of the competition was to build machine learning modules and increase students awareness on artificial intelligence.
Odumuyiwa, who is the Director of the institution’s Centre for Information Technology and Systems, said that 28 students from various disciplines in the university participated in the competition on March 21.
”This particular competition was only for students of universities across Africa.
“It was a one-day competition with the aim of building machine learning models and increasing the awareness of students on Artificial Intelligence.
“The competition was in three categories, the first being Beginner Hack (Hotspots Fires Prediction Challenge) – to build a model that predicts fires in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
”We also had the Intermediate Hack, (Xente Purchase Prediction Challenge).
“The task here was to build models and solutions that will help Xente with target marketing and better catering for customers’ need,” he said.
According to him, Xente is an organisation that provides mobile financial services and e-commerce platform.
”The Advanced Hack (SAEON Invertebrate Classification Computer Vision Challenge) was the third category, basically to build a model to identify species using computer vision,” he added.
He said that the university’s Artificial Intelligence Club team participated from one of the institution’s laboratories at CITS.
”At the end of the hackathon, the Artificial Intelligence Club came first in Nigeria with the following performances in the three categories:
”At the Beginner Hack, the university came first in Nigeria and fourth in Africa out of the 363 teams that participated in that category. We also came fourth and fifth on the leader board.
”The university came third in Nigeria at the Intermediate Hack category and 11th in Africa, out of the 227 teams that partipated in this category,” he said.
The official also said that the university emerged 11th on the leader board in the category.
”Finally, in the Advanced Hack category, the institution emerged first in Nigeria and third in Africa out of 206 teams that participated in this category.
“We came third on the leader board.”
Odumuyiwa said the achievement showed the students’ readiness to compete well globally as well as tackle challenges through technology.
”We are happy at the feat achieved by the students.
“It is indeed heart warming as it shows they are competing well globally and their standards going higher.
“On part, it shows we are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to building competence among our students on Artificial Intelligence.
”It also shows our readiness as a university to exploit the Artificial Intelligence technology to solve problems locally and internationally,” he said.