Building a usable radio monitoring automatic speech recognition (ASR) system is a challenging task for under-resourced languages and yet this is paramount in societies where radio is the main medium of public communication and discussions. Initial efforts by the United Nations in Uganda have proved how understanding the perceptions of rural people who are excluded from social media is important in national planning. However, these efforts are being challenged by the absence of transcribed speech datasets. In this paper, The Makerere Artificial Intelligence research lab releases a Luganda radio speech corpus of 155 hours. To our knowledge, this is the first publicly available radio dataset in sub-Saharan Africa. The paper describes the development of the voice corpus and presents baseline Luganda ASR performance results using Coqui STT toolkit, an open source speech recognition toolkit.
* Proceedings of the 13th Conference on Language Resources and
Evaluation (LREC 2022), pages 1945 to 1954 Marseille, 20 to 25 June 2022
The increasing occurrence, forms, and negative effects of misinformation on social media platforms has necessitated more misinformation detection tools. Currently, work is being done addressing COVID-19 misinformation however, there are no misinformation detection tools for any of the 40 distinct indigenous Ugandan languages. This paper addresses this gap by presenting basic language resources and a misinformation detection data set based on code-mixed Luganda-English messages sourced from the Facebook and Twitter social media platforms. Several machine learning methods are applied on the misinformation detection data set to develop classification models for detecting whether a code-mixed Luganda-English message contains misinformation or not. A 10-fold cross validation evaluation of the classification methods in an experimental misinformation detection task shows that a Discriminative Multinomial Naive Bayes (DMNB) method achieves the highest accuracy and F-measure of 78.19% and 77.90% respectively. Also, Support Vector Machine and Bagging ensemble classification models achieve comparable results. These results are promising since the machine learning models are based on n-gram features from only the misinformation detection dataset.
We take a step towards addressing the under-representation of the African continent in NLP research by creating the first large publicly available high-quality dataset for named entity recognition (NER) in ten African languages, bringing together a variety of stakeholders. We detail characteristics of the languages to help researchers understand the challenges that these languages pose for NER. We analyze our datasets and conduct an extensive empirical evaluation of state-of-the-art methods across both supervised and transfer learning settings. We release the data, code, and models in order to inspire future research on African NLP.
Cassava a major food crop in many parts of Africa, has majorly been affected by Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD). The disease affects tuberous roots and presents symptoms that include a yellow/brown, dry, corky necrosis within the starch-bearing tissues. Cassava breeders currently depend on visual inspection to score necrosis in roots based on a qualitative score which is quite subjective. In this paper we present an approach to automate root necrosis scoring using deep convolutional neural networks with semantic segmentation. Our experiments show that the UNet model performs this task with high accuracy achieving a mean Intersection over Union (IoU) of 0.90 on the test set. This method provides a means to use a quantitative measure for necrosis scoring on root cross-sections. This is done by segmentation and classifying the necrotized and non-necrotized pixels of cassava root cross-sections without any additional feature engineering.
In societies with well developed internet infrastructure, social media is the leading medium of communication for various social issues especially for breaking news situations. In rural Uganda however, public community radio is still a dominant means for news dissemination. Community radio gives audience to the general public especially to individuals living in rural areas, and thus plays an important role in giving a voice to those living in the broadcast area. It is an avenue for participatory communication and a tool relevant in both economic and social development.This is supported by the rise to ubiquity of mobile phones providing access to phone-in or text-in talk shows. In this paper, we describe an approach to analysing the readily available community radio data with machine learning-based speech keyword spotting techniques. We identify the keywords of interest related to agriculture and build models to automatically identify these keywords from audio streams. Our contribution through these techniques is a cost-efficient and effective way to monitor food security concerns particularly in rural areas. Through keyword spotting and radio talk show analysis, issues such as crop diseases, pests, drought and famine can be captured and fed into an early warning system for stakeholders and policy makers.
* Presented at NeurIPS 2019 Workshop on Machine Learning for the