Abstract We take a step towards addressing the under- representation of the African continent in NLP research by bringing together different stakeholders to create the first large, publicly available, high-quality dataset for named entity recognition (NER) in ten African languages. We detail the characteristics of these languages to help researchers and practitioners better understand the challenges they pose for NER tasks. We analyze our datasets and conduct an extensive empirical evaluation of state- of-the-art methods across both supervised and transfer learning settings. Finally, we release the data, code, and models to inspire future research on African NLP.1
Modelling and analyzing parliamentary legislation, roll-call votes and order of proceedings in developed countries has received significant attention in recent years. In this paper, we focused on understanding the bills introduced in a developing democracy, the Kenyan bicameral parliament. We developed and trained machine learning models on a combination of features extracted from the bills to predict the outcome - if a bill will be enacted or not. We observed that the texts in a bill are not as relevant as the year and month the bill was introduced and the category the bill belongs to.
Neural Machine Translation (NMT) for low-resource languages suffers from low performance because of the lack of large amounts of parallel data and language diversity. To contribute to ameliorating this problem, we built a baseline model for English–Hausa machine translation, which is considered a task for low–resource language. The Hausa language is the second largest Afro–Asiatic language in the world after Arabic and it is the third largest language for trading across a larger swath of West Africa countries, after English and French. In this paper, we curated different datasets containing Hausa–English parallel corpus for our translation. We trained baseline models and evaluated the performance of our models using the Recurrent and Transformer encoder–decoder architecture with two tokenization approaches: standard word–level tokenization and Byte Pair Encoding (BPE) subword tokenization.
Research in NLP lacks geographic diversity, and the question of how NLP can be scaled to low-resourced languages has not yet been adequately solved. ‘Low-resourced’-ness is a complex problem going beyond data availability and reflects systemic problems in society. In this paper, we focus on the task of Machine Translation (MT), that plays a crucial role for information accessibility and communication worldwide. Despite immense improvements in MT over the past decade, MT is centered around a few high-resourced languages. As MT researchers cannot solve the problem of low-resourcedness alone, we propose participatory research as a means to involve all necessary agents required in the MT development process. We demonstrate the feasibility and scalability of participatory research with a case study on MT for African languages. Its implementation leads to a collection of novel translation datasets, MT benchmarks for over 30 languages, with human evaluations for a third of them, and enables participants without formal training to make a unique scientific contribution. Benchmarks, models, data, code, and evaluation results are released at https://github.com/masakhane-io/masakhane-mt.