Organizations are rapidly leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) to build cutting-edge applications and services that can improve the quality of life, make business operations more efficient, and reduce complexities. As the AI workforce continues to expand, it’s important for tech professionals to consider honing their skills in certain areas if they want to pursue a career in AI.
In the quest to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and the needs of the AI industry, FAIR Forward in partnership with LEAPR Labs, IBS Foundation and Chemnitz University of Technology from Germany as training partner have introduced the AI fellowship. The fellowship aims to strengthen AI skills and capacities of young Rwandan graduates and professionals. In particular, the fellows receive three months of hands-on training in Machine Learning, Data Science, Natural Language Processing, Object Detection, and other AI-related topics before they join a private or public sector organization for a three-months professional internship. Serge, CEO at Leapr Labs, highlighted that a typical day for fellows includes attending lectures, working on practical exercises, and project development hours on a daily basis. In the end, the fellowship concludes by having the fellows in their teams ready to present their final projects based on the case studies obtained from paired industry companies.
Impact of the AI Fellowship in Rwanda
Since the launch of the Artificial Intelligence Fellowship in 2021, 45 AI Engineers have graduated from the program in collaboration with key stakeholders such as the Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA). The fellows’ success in adopting and implementing the knowledge and skills acquired throughout the fellowship was remarkable, as it was demonstrated in their professional internship and individual project. As a result, all 30 fellows who participated in the first phase of the fellowship, already secured job positions and internships at prestigious competing organizations such as MTN Rwanda, Trust stamp, and Bank of Kigali. This allows them to gain industrial experience and put their newly gained knowledge and abilities to use.
Being part of this AI fellowship has helped me not only to increase my skills and interest in AI-related projects but it has also expanded my professional network. Thank you LEAPR Labs and partners for the opportunity.
What is next?
For the second phase of the fellowship collaboration among major stakeholder institutions (public sector and private) such as the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA), Zorabots, and others has been established to explore career opportunities and contribute to the increase of technical knowledge in deploying and developing AI solution, especially in the public sector. Fellows also highly contribute to the growth of the AI community in Rwanda, for instance by attending the AI meetups at the Digital Transformation Center and contributing to discussions related to AI.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) Fellowship
Building on the success of the AI fellowship, DSSD, in partnership with the Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA), is looking forward to initiating the first Natural Language Processing (NLP) fellowship program with the aim of specifically supporting the development and application of Natural Language Processing applications such as Machine Translation and conversational AI chatbots in Rwanda and providing the fellows with the necessary technical know-how to develop solutions in this field. We look forward to having you join the next cohort!