(KIGALI, RWANDA | MARCH 1, 2022) — More than 40 Rwandan software developers and technology start-ups convened at the Digital Transformation Center in Kigali last weekend to create problem-solving applications using Mozilla’s new voice recognition software called the Kinyarwanda DeepSpeech RESTful API.
The participants, organised in 10 teams, spent most of Saturday and Sunday creating a wide range of applications that support the voice recognition software with the winning teams walking away with cash prizes.
Kasuku emerged as the winners of the hackathon after creating an application that will enable Rwandans to access various e-services such as e-government and e-commerce services by voicing commands in Kinyarwanda. They took the first prize which was US$ 1,000 (Rwf 1 million).
UbufashaAI, an application that aims to improve online service delivery by enabling institutions to issue customer service numbers for easier tracking and follow up of client inquiries came second and won a cash prize of US$ 800 (Rwf 800,000).
Lastly, Ihugure, an application that will enable the public to access legal information and advisory online by converting voice commands of people’s legal requests made in Kinyarwanda to text in interactive question and answer sessions took third place and walked away with US$ 700 (Rwf 700,000).
The winners committed to making further improvements to their applications before rolling out for public use.
This startup event aimed at creating innovative solutions using the Kinyarwanda DeepSpeech RESTful API and was hosted by Mozilla, in partnership with the FAIR Forward - Artificial Intelligence for all project of the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), and Digital Umuganda, a Rwandan artificial intelligence (AI).
Developed together with Digital Umuganda, the API was built using voice datasets that were collected and used to train computer systems to speak and interpret Kinyarwanda through machine learning - a technology that enables computer systems to act without being explicitly programmed by learning and improving from data and patterns.
Ronald Kayonga, from the team that developed Ihugure and received third said:
“I’m happy I participated in this hackathon and really excited for what lies ahead. I look forward to continuously improving the Ihugure application.”
Speaking on the event, Remy Muhire, Community Lead on Voice Technology at Mozilla in Rwanda said:
“The hackathon offered an opportunity for Rwandan innovators to create software applications that improve the way people interact with machines and technologies driven by artificial intelligence like personal or task-specific assistants in Kinyarwanda. Voice recognition is an alternative to typing on a keyboard. We look forward to having more applications that use voice recognition software to provide more convenience in accessing various public and private sector services.”
Download photos from the event here.
“The hackathon offered an opportunity for Rwandan innovators to create software applications that improve the way people interact with machines."
Remy Muhire, Community Lead on Voice Technology at Mozilla
Mozilla’s work is guided by the Mozilla Manifesto. Founded as a community open source project in 1998, Mozilla currently consists of two organizations: the 501(c)3 Mozilla Foundation, which leads our movement building work; and its wholly owned subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation, which leads our market-based work. The two organizations work in close concert with each other and a global community of tens of thousands of volunteers under the single banner: Mozilla. Learn more
About Digital Umuganda
Digital Umuganda is an East African Artificial intelligence company based in Kigali, Rwanda. Digital Umuganda has a focus on Voice Chabot development and open infrastructure development. We have been working with Rwanda Government Institutions, German development agency (GIZ) and Mozilla to democratize access to voice technology. Learn more
About the FAIR Forward project of the German Development Cooperation (GIZ)
The project “Artificial Intelligence for All – FAIR Forward” is dedicated to the open and sustainable development and application of artificial intelligence and particularly supports partner countries in Africa and Asia on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Learn more
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