AirQo, a research initiative at Makerere University and 2024 Mozilla Technology Fund Awardee, has announced the AirQo African Air Quality Prediction Challenge in collaboration with Zindi. The competition invites data scientists and machine learning enthusiasts worldwide to use satellite data to create innovative models predicting air quality (PM2.5 levels) across Africa.

Learn more and register for the AirQo African Air Quality Prediction Challenge.

Air pollution poses significant environmental health risks in Africa, particularly for low-income communities. While traditional ground-based sensor networks are effective, they can be expensive to deploy and maintain. This challenge leverages freely available satellite data from Sentinel-5P, Google Earth Engine, to create cost-effective air quality prediction models for eight cities in seven African cities: Lagos, Accra, Nairobi, Yaounde, Bujumbura, Kisumu, Kampala, and Gulu.

Winners will receive cash prizes and the opportunity to work with AirQo on a three-month contract to implement their winning solutions. The top three winners will receive USD 1,500, USD 900, and USD 600 respectively. Additionally, AirQo has allocated USD 3,000 to contract the winners and further develop their models for real-world application.

The challenge kicked off on March 15, 2024, and will be followed by a webinar on 4th April 2024 to provide participants with additional details about the competition and the data. The competition closes on June 16, 2024, with winners announced on July 5, 2024.

While over 200 air quality monitors have been deployed in major African cities, they leave vast areas uncovered. The Air Quality Prediction Challenge tackles this by encouraging participants to develop innovative ways to leverage satellite data. This approach aims to fill the data gaps and create a more comprehensive picture of air quality across the continent.

“AirQo’s African Air Quality Prediction Challenge is a shining example of using technology for environmental justice. At Mozilla, we’re excited to see the innovative ways participants leverage AI and data to measure air quality on the African continent — and we’re proud to call AirQo a Mozilla Technology Fund grantee.”

—Mehan Jayasuriya Senior Program Officer, Mozilla

“We believe satellite observations can increase air quality monitoring coverage across different African regions. This complements ground-based monitoring and offers a way to understand air quality in areas lacking such infrastructure.”

—Richard Sserunjogi, Data Scientist, AirQo

“Through the AirQo African Air Quality Prediction Challenge, we aim to harness the power of satellite data coupled with the talented African AI community on Zindi to address the critical issue of air pollution in Africa. By leveraging innovative models developed by Zindi data scientists, we can enhance air quality monitoring and create a cost-effective solution for cities across Africa.”

—Megan Yates, CTO and Co-founder, Zindi