African languages have far less in-language content available digitally, making it challenging for question answering systems to satisfy the information needs of users. Cross-lingual open-retrieval question answering (XOR QA) systems -- those that retrieve answer content from other languages while serving people in their native language -- offer a means of filling this gap. To this end, we create AfriQA, the first cross-lingual QA dataset with a focus on African languages. AfriQA includes 12,000+ XOR QA examples across 10 African languages. While previous datasets have focused primarily on languages where cross-lingual QA augments coverage from the target language, AfriQA focuses on languages where cross-lingual answer content is the only high-coverage source of answer content. Because of this, we argue that African languages are one of the most important and realistic use cases for XOR QA. Our experiments demonstrate the poor performance of automatic translation and multilingual retrieval methods. Overall, AfriQA proves challenging for state-of-the-art QA models. We hope that the dataset enables the development of more equitable QA technology.
Africa is home to over 2000 languages from over six language families and has the highest linguistic diversity among all continents. This includes 75 languages with at least one million speakers each. Yet, there is little NLP research conducted on African languages. Crucial in enabling such research is the availability of high-quality annotated datasets. In this paper, we introduce AfriSenti, which consists of 14 sentiment datasets of 110,000+ tweets in 14 African languages (Amharic, Algerian Arabic, Hausa, Igbo, Kinyarwanda, Moroccan Arabic, Mozambican Portuguese, Nigerian Pidgin, Oromo, Swahili, Tigrinya, Twi, Xitsonga, and Yor\`ub\'a) from four language families annotated by native speakers. The data is used in SemEval 2023 Task 12, the first Afro-centric SemEval shared task. We describe the data collection methodology, annotation process, and related challenges when curating each of the datasets. We conduct experiments with different sentiment classification baselines and discuss their usefulness. We hope AfriSenti enables new work on under-represented languages. The dataset is available at https://github.com/afrisenti-semeval/afrisent-semeval-2023 and can also be loaded as a huggingface datasets (https://huggingface.co/datasets/shmuhammad/AfriSenti).