October 19, 2021

Catching up with the AIMS-Ishango Data Science and A.I Fellowship Program

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), in partnership with ISHANGO recently launched the Data Science & Artificial Intelligence (AI) Fellowship Program at AIMS Rwanda.    

The fellowship program aims to boost the African data science graduates’ employment prospects through a fully funded, three-month fellowship, where fellows will be upskilled with technical and soft skills to prepare them for the global job market.   

For its pilot phase, the fellows comprise fourteen AIMS alumni representing all AIMS Centres of Excellence and are perfectly gender-balanced with seven women and men. Hosted at AIMS Rwanda in Kigali, the fellows will get real-world experience working remotely on value-adding projects for international organisations.  

Dr. Charles Lebon Mberi Kimpolo our Director of the Industry Initiative at the Global Network Secretariat of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) took time to explain in detail what the fellowship is all about.  

Q: Tell us about the AIMS – Ishango Fellowship program?    

Ishango Fellowship is a Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) fellowship program with an overall goal to increase the capacity of data scientists in Africa. We are focusing on the youth, who are keen to learn new technology but also helping to drive projects across different businesses. We want to expose young African graduates to work hands-on projects. As a result, we believe that the program will boost their employability skills and prospects.   

Q: What was the motivation in partnering with AIMS?     

AIMS has done a lot of intense training. For one to join the fellowship program, one needs to have completed the AIMS program. This builds an automated system that allows the fellowship to tap into the filtered pool of particular talent.  

AIMS is a Pan-African institution, so we have graduated students from across Africa, fostering talent selection for the Ishango program. AIMs can also help implement the program in different geographies. So, the pilot phase is in Rwanda and can be easily scaled up elsewhere.     

Q: What is the benefit of attending this fellowship program?     

The program boosts the transition to employment for the fellows because the fellowship boosts their employability skills, gives them hands-on experience on different projects, and allows them to work with international companies remotely, which is a unique opportunity.    

In return, the host institution gains access to fresh, cost-effective skilled labor, which delivers value and will no doubt build capacity within the continent.       

Q: What skills are needed to attend this fellowship?     

A: The fellowship requires a very comprehensive application process that demonstrates their passion for data science.  Candidates should have both technical skills and non-technical skills. Technical skills include programming, statistics, mathematical & computer science with domain knowledge, while the non-technical side consists of communication and making business sense out of your code and data. 

Q: What can we hope for in the future?    

A great scientist once said that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.” We are committed to creating our future.   

Hear from the Fellows.  

Cyrille Feuojio is an AIMS Cameroon Alumnus from the class of 2020. According to him, the fellowship will help him to link his engineering to data science. “Before AIMS, I was an Engineer, and after the Fellowship Program, I intend to join the task force as a well-polished Data Scientist.”- He said.  

For Anisie Uwimana, AIMS Rwanda, and AMMI Alumnus, she sees the fellowship as a foundation for a successful career in Data Science. “I’m hoping it will assist me in broadening my soft-skills and technical skills to meet global business requirements, expose me to real-world data science experience, and boost my confidence in sharing knowledge in this emerging field.” 

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