After months of planning, MozFest House Kenya was held in the beautiful Shamba Cafe in Nairobi, Kenya. In an open concept barn space, verandah, and tents, hundreds of builders, activists, and researchers gathered from across the continent to discuss trustworthy AI from an African lens, with a focus on East and Southern Africa.
Shamba Events, Nairobi, Kenya
The Barn at MozFest House: Kenya
Day 1 Highlights
Amidst a backdrop of a beautiful rustic barn, a warm breeze and exciting energy in the air from the 200+ participants who traveled from across the region to attend, the two-day event was kicked off by J. Bob Alotta, Senior Vice President of Global Programs, and Chenai Chair, Senior Program Officer Africa Innovation Mradi. Both highlighted the intention and purpose of this convening: bringing together different stakeholders to lead the conversation on what Trustworthy AI should look like in East and Southern Africa.
During breaks between sessions, people weaved throughout the airy Shamba Events venue, enjoying the sunshine, delicious local lunches, treats and freshly brewed coffee. The hail storm that graced the afternoon did not stop people from listening in on the insights being shared on the first Dialogues and Debates on Confronting the Margins moderated by Senior Program Officer, Roselyn Odoyo.
Sessions on Day 1 included:
- The Case for Feminist Tech Governance with Rutendo Chabikwa and Nancy Salem, which provided a feminist analysis of African regional AI policies
- African Feminism in Big Social Data: Why We Must Advance Radical Care in Digital Activism Engagement with Ololade Faniyi and Ann Holland, which explored the #womensmarchZambia movement against gender-based violence
- What is the path towards inclusive digital identity? Which covered the digital ID movement, AI and the risk of digitizing discrimination in East Africa with Grace Mutung'u, Mustafa Mahmoud Yousif, Muthuri Kathure
- Empowering Communities: Bridging Data Gaps, AI Localization, and Fostering Digital Collaboration with Tanatswa Mukwacha, Valentine Muhamba, Harvey Lukasa Binamu which covered local curation of data for AI models, and how to improve access to the internet in connectivity-challenged communities
Day 2 Highlights
On Day 2, we heard from our keynote speaker Daniel Motaung, who is known for whistleblowing on Meta’s outsourcing company, Sama, where he was hired for content moderation and paid $2.20/hr.
Daniel spoke about his story and what he thinks needs to happen to hold tech companies accountable, including building global content moderator workers’ unions, advocating for better pay for content moderators, and including content moderators in high-level discussions at big tech companies.
Daniel shared how, when he applied for the job in content moderation, he thought he would be working with newspapers. After he was hired he learned he was working online, and for a social media company. Turns out he had signed up to screen graphic and traumatic images and videos for Meta via their contracting company, Sama. He was not given prior information about what this job would be, and did not have adequate support after regularly watching gruesome content - some of the darkest things humans are capable of. He developed PTSD as a result and ended up suing Meta for work-related damages.
On Day 2, we also had the Data Futures Lab showcase which featured five projects supported by Mozilla:
- Masakhane Web - Machine Translation Platform for African Languages: The showcase winner - a platform that aims to host the already trained machine translation for African languages models from the community and allow contributions from users to create new data for retraining.
- Living Data Hubs - The Kibera Public Space Project Internet Network: A platform to address the internet infrastructure gap in Kibera and provide low-income communities with access, control, and ownership over data about them
- Real411: An independent public complaints platform where citizens can report misinformation, hate speech, incitement to violence and attacks on journalists online.
- Khaya AI: Natural Language Processing of Ghanaian languages, including automatic speech recognition and machine translation, seeking to apply it to solving local problems.
- Question Answering Platform for Localised and Targeted Agriculture Advisory for Smallholder Farmers: Machine learning for localized and targeted agricultural advisory to smallholder farmers in Uganda
After sessions concluded on Day 2, Chenai Chair closed off the event, celebrating a vision that had come to be through the Africa Mradi program and excitement of future convening with Mozilla and the community. In true celebration, we ended with music, food and drinks! Participants received dance lessons from the Crackerz dance crew with Wasanii Mtaani/Artists in the Hood and then enjoyed live performances from Andy DJ and The Beat Parade Band as networking continued over an outdoor BBQ dinner.
While MozFest House: Kenya was a in-person event, with Dialogues and Debates live streamed from the venue, we had to postpone three of our sessions due to an unexpected hailstorm(!!). These sessions were live streamed on MozFest Discord on the 23rd and 24th October. You can watch the Dialogues and Debates on our website.
We have multiple ways to immerse in the experiences!
- Watch our Recap video on the website, that we're sure you will enjoy and share with your friends!
- Check out your pictures from MozFest House: Kenya.
- If you missed the sessions, don't worry, check our Dialogues and Debates series. It's a repository of every Dialogues and Debates that has ever happened!
- Follow the Mozilla Festival LinkedIn, and Mozilla Festival X (Twitter) to get the latest update
- Join our vibrant community on MozFest Discord, where the magic happens!
Art at MozFest House: Kenya
VR at MozFest House: Kenya
Thank you to Chenai Chair for contributions to this blog post.