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MTN Women In Technology Mentors 80 Girls As Part Of World ICT Day

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MTN Women in Technology Representative mentoring Girls in ICT at the MTN House in Accra 07

As part of efforts to bridge the gap between gender and technology, MTN has partnered with the Ministry of Communication and Digitalization to host 80 young girls in ICT as part of a mentorship program.   The mentoring session forms part of a Girls in ICT program which is being executed by the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization.

 

MTN Ghana is supporting the Girls in ICT programme with Ghc10M to cover the cost of the project over a three-year period starting from 2021.   Payment of the funds are being spread over a 3year period with an amount of GHc3.33million to be paid annually.

 

Under the theme ‘Accessing ICT Safely’, 80 girls who were finalists in Girls in ICT bootcamp training from the Central, Oti, Western North and North East Regions travelled to Accra to engage with Women in Technology from MTN and other Technology companies and to experience the working life of female achievers in the industry. During the mentorship session at MTN Head office (MTN House), the students were given the opportunity to have one on one sessions with the CEO and mentors.

 

Hon. Ama Pomaa Boateng represented the Ministry of Communication and Digitalization at the event. Speaking to the press, she explained why her outfit had partnered with MTN for this project and why it was necessary to teach young girls how to access the internet safely. She said, “I am very proud of all the young girls here today. Technology is a male dominated field so it is very encouraging to see all these girls interested in this field. Although there are a lot of benefits of the internet there are also many dangers. It is necessary to educate these girls against issues such as cyberbullying, scamming and fraud to make sure they do not fall victim. MTN has done a lot to support training of girls in ICT. We are grateful to them and know we can count on them to do more.”

 

Georgina Asare Fiagbenu, Senior Manager for Corporate Communications at MTN welcomed the young girls and their teachers to the MTN House. She congratulated them for being selected out of 1000 as the top 80. She encouraged them to take advantage of all the benefits of the internet and engage with the mentors.

 

She said, “It is very exciting to finally have you here with us at the MTN House. This program was stalled by COVID for the past two years but finally we have the chance to meet you all in person. This program has been designed to teach you how to access ICT safely and take advantage of the opportunities of the internet. This is so that you can use it effectively for your studies. I am sure that in a few years’ time we will see you as top leaders in technology.”

 

Robert Kuzoe, Senior Manager, Sustainability and Social Impact, MTN Ghana Foundation was also in attendance. He spoke to the media about MTN’s desire to see more girls enter the ICT space. He said, “MTN is gradually moving from a Telecommunication Company (TelCo) to a Technology Company (TechCo). As we embark on this gradual change, we hope to see a lot more women take up space in the technology sphere. We are hopeful that with our continuous support, the young ladies will have a better opportunity of pursuing careers in technology and STEM as a whole”.

 

MTN’s support towards the initiative falls in line with MTN’s vision to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world and its core beliefs that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. In view of that, MTN Ghana has supported the programme over the years in kind and cash.In 2021 as part of MTN Ghana’s 25th Anniversary, the business decided to invest significantly in the program to benefit more girls.

 

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Meta’s AI AI machine translation research helps break language barriers

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Today, Meta announced that it has built and open sourced ‘No Language Left Behind’ NLLB-200, a single AI model that is the first to translate across 200 different languages, including 55 African languages with state-of-the-art results. Meta is using the modelling techniques and learnings from the project to improve and extend translations on Facebook, Instagram, and Wikipedia.

 

In an effort to develop high-quality machine translation capabilities for most of the world’s low-resource languages, this single AI model was designed with a focus on African languages. They are challenging from a machine translation perspective. AI models require lots and lots of data to help them learn, and there’s not a lot of human translated training data for these languages. For example, there’s more than 20M people who speak and write in Luganda but examples of this written language are extremely difficult to find on the internet.

 

We worked with professional translators for each of these languages to develop a reliable benchmark which can automatically assess translation quality for many low-resource languages. We also work with professional translators to do human evaluation too, meaning people who speak the languages natively evaluate what the AI produced. The reality is that a handful of languages dominate the web, so only a fraction of the world can access content and contribute to the web in their own language. We want to change this by creating more inclusive machine translations systems – ones that unlock access to the web for the more than 4B people around the world that are currently excluded because they do not speak one of the few languages content is available in.

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“It’s impressive how much AI is improving all of our services. We just open-sourced an AI model we built that can translate across 200 different languages — many of which aren’t supported by current translation systems. We call this project No Language Left Behind, and the AI modelling techniques we used are helping make high quality translations for languages spoken by billions of people around the world. To give a sense of the scale, the 200-language model has over 50 billion parameters, and we trained it using our new Research SuperCluster, which is one of the world’s fastest AI supercomputers. The advances here will enable more than 25 billion translations every day across our apps. Communicating across languages is one superpower that AI provides, but as we keep advancing our AI work it’s improving everything we do — from showing the most interesting content on Facebook and Instagram, to recommending more relevant ads, to keeping our services safe for everyone,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post on his Facebook profile.

 

Language is our culture, identity, and lifeline to the world. However, as high-quality translation tools don’t exist for hundreds of languages, billions of people today can’t access digital content or participate fully in conversations and communities online in their preferred or native languages. This is especially true for hundreds of millions of people who speak the many languages of Africa.

 

“Africa is a continent with very high linguistic diversity, and language barriers exist day to day. We are pleased to announce that 55 African languages will be included in this machine translation research, making it a major breakthrough for our continent,” Balkissa Ide Siddo, Public Policy Director for Africa said while speaking about the launch of the AI model. “In the future, imagine visiting your favourite Facebook group, coming across a post in Igbo or Luganda, and being able to understand it in your own language with just a click of a button – that’s where we hope research like this leads us. Highly accurate translations in more languages could also help to spot harmful content and misinformation, protect election integrity, and curb instances of online sexual exploitation and human trafficking.”

 

While commenting on accessibility and inclusion in the pursuit of building an equitable metaverse, Ide Siddo added “At Meta, we are working today to ensure that as many people as possible will be able to access the new educational, social and economic opportunities that the next evolution of the internet will bring to future technology and an everyday living experience tomorrow.”

 

To confirm that the translations are high quality, Meta also created a new evaluation dataset, FLORES-200, and measured NLLB-200’s performance in each language. Results revealed that NLLB-200 exceeds the previous state of the art by an average of 44 percent.

 

Meta is also open-sourcing the NLLB-200 model and publishing a slew of research tools to enable other researchers to extend this work to more languages and build more inclusive technologies. Meta AI is also providing up to $200,000 of grants to non-profit organizations for real world applications for NLLB-200.

 

There are versions of Wikipedia in more than 300 languages, but most have far fewer articles than the 6+ million available in English. Following Meta’s partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that hosts Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects, modelling  techniques and learnings from the NLLB research are now also being applied to translation systems used by Wikipedia editors. Using the Wikimedia Foundation’s Content Translation Tool, articles can now be easily translated in more than 20 low-resource languages (those that don’t have extensive datasets to train AI systems), including 10 that previously were not supported by any machine translation tools on the platform.

 

To explore a demo of NLLB-200 showing how the model can translate stories from around the world, visit here. You can also read the research paper here.

 

 

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