The Regional UNDG for East and Southern Africa is committed to mobilizing, rationalizing and leveraging its assets in support of UN country teams’ assistance to governments of the region in their efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Core functions of the group are: Provision of technical support to Resident Coordinators and UN country teams; quality assurance of UN Development Assistance Frameworks; performance management of the Resident Coordinators and UN country teams; and ‘troubleshooting’ in complex country situations.

Silo Fighters Blog

Using Machine Learning to Accelerate Sustainable Development Solutions in Uganda

September 14, 2017

A year and a half after it was prototyped, the radio content analysis tool developed by Pulse Lab Kampala and partners has become fully operational. The findings and lessons learned during the process were compiled in a report entitled: “Using Machine Learning to Analyse Radio Content in Uganda - Opportunities for Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Action.” The recent Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Good Global Summit has brought together partners to define a roadmap for governments, industry, academia, media, and civil society to develop AI in a safe, responsible and ethical manner benefiting all segments of society. At the summit, the radio content analysis tool was showcased as one of the applications of AI currently in use at the UN. The tool was designed to leverage public radio content as a source of information to inform on issues relevant to sustainable development. The most complex part in the development of the prototype is capturing the transcription of spoken words into written text. This technology, called speech recognition, is used in applications ranging from simple voice dialing (e.g. "Call home") to fully automatic speech-to-text processing where every word is being converted into text (e.g. dictation to a document or email). The world’s largest IT companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM, invest significant resources in speech recognition for their products. There are also companies that specialise in speech recognition as Nuance Communications (Apple’s supplier) or HTK. This type of companies offer automatic speech-to-text dictation in about 50 languages, but languages and dialects from the African continent are not available among them. The radio content analysis tool was developed as part of a project conducted by Pulse Lab Kampala in collaboration with the Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The tool works by converting public discussions that take place on radio in various African languages into text. Once converted, the text can be searched for topics of interest. The tool is now fully functional in the Northern and Central regions of Uganda and available for three languages: Luganda, Acholi and English (as spoken in the country). The report outlines the methodology and processes of the radio content analysis tool, distills the technology behind its creation and presents the lessons learned along the way. It also details the results of several pilot studies that were conducted together with partners from the Government, UN agencies and academia to understand the validity and value of unfiltered public radio discussions for development. The hope is that the processes and lessons detailed in the report can serve as examples and inspiration for using radio talk and data analytics to inform decision-making processes in development and humanitarian scenarios, in contexts where other sources of data may be missing or insufficient. Using Machine Learning to Analyse Radio Content in Uganda from Global Pulse Uganda’s population is the youngest in the world, with 77% of its population being under 30 years of age. The country is now gaining international recognition for the development of Artificial Intelligence products by its youth.Listen to insights from the young Ugandans working at Pulse Lab Kampala on the development of the radio content analysis tool.   Cross-posted from the United Nations Global Pulse Blog.

Country Stories

Tanzania private sector: Open for business on the Sustainable Development Goals

June 17, 2016

We all know that the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals is an ambitious global plan, but if we are serious about it, building vibrant and systematic partnerships is a vital prerequisite for their successful implementation. At the UN in Tanzania, we are busy building partnerships to support the new global agenda. So far we have engaged the executive branch of the government, to include the SDGs in the next five-year national development plan. We’ve also reached out to youth groups, with whom we launched the SDG Champions initiative. And the media fraternity is joining us to spread the word about the goals in Kiswahili language; and most recently, the private sector.   Testing the waters Recently, the United Nations Tanzania partnered with the private sector to benchmark their readiness to support the implementation of the SDGs. We do this through the with the UN Global Compact, the Corporate Social Responsibility Group Africa Limited and the Africa Sustainable Business Magazine. Our first step was to get some information the private sector and their plans for engaging on Agenda 2030. We had a very group turnout - almost 280 of the 350 private sector companies  responded to our survey. This targeted research provided some interesting insights on the views of the SDGs by Tanzanian companies. The good news is that they are aware of the SDGs and interested in partnering with the UN to make them happen in Tanzania. According to the results, 60 percent of the people surveyed are aware of the SDGs, being the SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all - the one that resonated most among the participants.  SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere-, and SDG 3 -Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages - followed on the list of the most popular goals among this sector. The respondents also agreed that, potentially, they can have the biggest impact on SDG 8. Beyond just knowing about them, we are also encouraged  that the private sector is ready to partner with us to implement the SDGs, with 60 percent of the participants responding positively to a partnership opportunity to implement the Agenda 2030 in Tanzania. We shared the findings of this survey at the 1st Africa Sustainable Business Summit held in Dar Es Salaam, attended by the Vice President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu, who encouraged the private sector to actively raise awareness about the SDGs and to build partnerships to assist their implementation. At this stage private sector companies are interested mainly in raising awareness on the new global agenda: Sharing information with their employees, especially on health-related issues, and sharing information on behalf of the UN about the SDGs. Keeping it up According to a UNIDO-commissioned report on engaging with the private sector, “building vibrant and systematic partnerships with the private sector is a vital prerequisite for the successful implementation of a transformative agenda to accelerate poverty reduction and sustainable development in the post-2015 era.” In Tanzania, we will keep working in this direction, we believe the private sector should be taking a strong role in the development in Tanzania with the Global Goals being an integral part of their business proposition. We know that in terms of protecting the environment, preventing corruption and strengthening employment the private sector is absolutely key and their commitment is therefore essential at this stage of Tanzania’s development. The UN will be there to support this effort.  Anyone out there that can share their ideas and experiences?

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