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Mozilla's Common Voice Project Supports Projects in Africa

Mozilla's Common Voice project supports the development of inclusive voice-enabled technologies for all groups and communities, and it has now awarded eight projects $50,000 each to develop voice technologies leveraging the Kiswahili language and voice technology to increase social and economic opportunities for marginalized groups in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

These grants are supported by the Gates Foundation with the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and GIZ to advance the use of open-source voice data for products that support community participation and engagement.

"Infusing people's languages into the technology we build is a critical step toward creating technologies that center communities of end users. These projects have been selected for their creative solutions touching core, community-based social-economic interventions. We are very excited by this cohort of awardees and the important work they are about to undertake," said Chenai Chair, senior program officer for Africa Innovation, in a statement.

The projects chosen include ChamaChat by Ujuzi Craft in Kenya, which includes a chatbot that interacts with community leaders and gives voice replies in Kiswahili via SMS and Whatsapp; Kiazi Bora by Sustain Earth's Environment Africa in Tanzania, which uses a voice-enabled application that informs vulnerable women in rural areas and marginalized communities on the nutritional values of sweet potatoes, farming skills, and detailed market availability; Wezesha na Kabambe by the United Kingdom's. University of Westminster, creating a mobile-enabled Swahili audio chatbot in Kenya for agricultural information; LivHealth Kiswahili Corpus by Badili Innovations in Kenya to empower local communities to identify livestock syndromes and get timely interventions from qualified livestock practitioners using natural language processing and artificial intelligence to build Kiswahili text-to-speech models for disseminating disease information; Imarika by Strathmore University to create a conversational chatbot offering digital climate advisory services in English and Swahili; Paza Sauti by Tech Innovators Network in Kenya, developing a chatbot and an interactive voice response service that will provide voice-enabled services in business registration and financial literacy; Kiswahili Text and Voice Recognition Platform (KTVRP) for Agricultural Advisory and Financial Services for Smallholder Farmers by Duniacom Group in Tanzania; and Haki des femmes by Core23Lab in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, leveraging voice technology to provide access to legal information and support for women.

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