19-year-old Ghanaian, Mustapha Diyaol Haqq, created a predictive analytics model using artificial intelligence to diagnose breast cancer. The teenager is based in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region in Ghana. He said that seeing how big tech companies use innovation to solve major problems in the world inspires him.
Mustapha disclosed that he used online sources to learn to code.
I looked online for any free courses that could help me develop coding skills and completed as many as I could.
The teenager’s predictive model shows whether a breast cancer tumor is Malignant (Cancerous) or Benign (Not Cancerous). It also predicts whether cancer would make a comeback over some time.
According to Tech TV Africa, breast cancer datasets containing over 500 samples of malignant and benign tumor cells available on the machine learning repository maintained by the University of California, Irvine was used to testing the model.
But Mustapha’s journey to create a system to predict and diagnose breast cancer was not that easy. Poor internet was the main challenge.
We don’t have a good Internet connection where we live, so I had to walk kilometres to an Internet café where I could access free online coding courses.
Mustapha narrated that his parents ensured that he had access to the internet, despite it being expensive.
Internet access is expensive, but thanks to the generous support of my parents–who made some sacrifices to give me a chance to complete a few online courses–I built sufficient coding skills to start developing solutions to some of the problems affecting our community.
Our continent does not enjoy the fixed-line infrastructure of our more developed peers, and mobile Internet can be expensive. For me to afford the Internet cafes where I learned to code, my parents had to make sacrifices. Global companies can play an invaluable support role by investing in providing Internet access to our communities to support us as we get ready for a digital future.
The teenager is hoping to make the model available to women across Africa for free.
I used my knowledge of coding and machine learning to develop a model for diagnosing breast cancer, which I hope to release freely to communities across Africa.
Besides breast cancer, Mustapha is hoping to help solve the problems of hunger and food security in Africa.
Africa relies heavily on smallholder farmers to meet its food production needs. However, much of the produce from farms are spoilt before it reaches the markets in the cities. I’m currently working on a machine learning and AI model that can help reduce post-harvest losses and ensure the work our farmers do translates into food security for our communities.
The self-taught programmer became the Youth Ambassador for Africa Code Week 2019, an annual continental digital literacy program. Over 4.1 million youth from 37 countries in Africa have been part of it since 2015. Mustapha is an instructor for Ghana Code Club. Also, he and some friends have established coding clubs within the country. They teach kids and adults how to code.