AI-driven applications for health care are booming globally. While much of the attention is being given to innovations from high-income contexts, there is a growing community of data scientists, entrepreneurs and healthcare workers who are exploring how AI can improve health outcomes in Africa. Indeed, innovative ideas, motivation and a deep understanding of the local needs are present in many African countries – yet there is an urgent need for more opportunities to research and publish on AI in global health; to learn how to transition great ideas into impactful solutions; to connect across disciplines, sectors and geographies; and to build a repository of evidence and lessons learned that can serve as a best practice guide for those innovating in the space. In response to the potential as well as the need, the Harvard Global Health Institute and partners will convene experts, students, innovators, policymakers and others driving the health data science and AI agenda in Africa.  

Objectives & Outputs  

The inaugural Data Science & AI Summit (DASH) in Africa will take place in Kigali, Rwanda. It will inspire, teach and connect innovators in the health data science/AI community within Africa. Through a cross-disciplinary approach that empowers participants to customize the event content, we will explore lessons learned from previous digital health revolutions, highlight new challenges in the advent of AI and cultivate ideas and collaborations that will drive the ecosystem towards scalable impact.   

The Summit agenda features thought-provoking panel discussions and flash talks from African experts; case study discussions on emergent AI technologies in Africa and skill-building workshops. An ‘unconference’ component of the agenda will encourage the exploration and pursuit of new ideas crowdsourced from participants. Poster sessions and a networking reception will catalyze connections, and booths featuring regional universities with programs in health data science/AI will inform opportunities for future learning. While the speakers will predominantly be from Africa, experts from Harvard, MIT and other centers of excellence will be present to augment conversations, share knowledge and advise on how to transition great ideas into impactful solutions.  

Over the 2-days, this Summit will:  

  • Facilitate novel collaborations and opportunities by bringing together participants from diverse backgrounds. 
  • Support the widespread dissemination of content and ideas through live streaming, on-site interviews, and recorded talks. 
  • Unearth and develop underexplored ideas that have the potential to advance the field and improve health outcomes  
  • Promote the work of local, trailblazing academic institutions who are creating educational opportunities in the field. 
  • Allow for the synthesis and sharing of up-to-date information on local activity in the field, existing health data science communication platforms; forthcoming workshops; emerging technologies.  
  • Serve as the foundation for subsequent written output (including case studies, white papers, blogs) that can be adapted for teaching and publication.