The second cohort of Lacuna Fund-supported projects has been announced. The recipients of the funding will build publicly accessible text and speech databases to power Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies in 29 African languages.
Supported projects would generate text and speech datasets for natural language processing (NLP) technologies, which will have major downstream implications in Sub-Saharan Africa for education, financial inclusion, healthcare, agriculture, connectivity, and disaster response.
Lacuna Fund helps data scientists, researchers, and social entrepreneurs create new labelled datasets to solve an underserved population or problem, augment existing datasets to make them more representative, or redesign old datasets to make them more sustainable. All datasets created will be established and owned locally, and they will be freely available to the international community while adhering to ethical and privacy best practices.
Lacuna Fund seeks to make its funding available to as many organizations in the AI for social good space as possible, while also cultivating capacity and emerging organizations.
Lacuna Fund’s partners include
- The International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC).
- The Rockefeller Foundation
- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (German Development Cooperation) is leading the initiative “FAIR Forward: Artificial Intelligence for All.”
Lacuna Fund received over 50 applications from African organizations or in collaboration with them. While each of them, as well as many others, is poised to make an impact, the projects chosen include, among others:
- Building an Annotated Spoken Corpus for Igbo NLP Tasks – University of Ibadan/Nweya
- Entity Recognition and Parts of Speech Datasets for African Languages – K4A/Nabende
- Open Source Datasets for Local Ghanaian Languages: A Case for Twi and Ga – Ashesi University/Boateng
- Masakhane MT: Decolonizing Scientific Writing for Africa – K4A/Abbott
- Building NLP Text and Speech Datasets for Low Resourced Languages in East Africa – Makerere/Katumba
- Multimodal Datasets for Bemba – University of Zambia/Sikasote
On the Lacuna Fund awards page, you can find more information about each project.