Presenting the Global Top 100 outstanding projects: Mbaza AI

Published on May 30, 2023

Share this post

After a thorough scientific, ethical, and business review of all projects submitted to the 2022 IRCAI Global Top 100 call, IRCAI has deemed ten submissions as “outstanding” based on their AI integrity, potential impact on the SDGs, business sustainability, and ethical design. In this article, we would like to introduce yet another among the ten submissions: Mbaza AI is an open-source algorithm developed by Appsilon to monitor biodiversity at scale “without the need of an internet connection or the latest hardware”. Earlier this month, at our UN STI Forum side event, Jędrzej Świeżewski (Head of AI at Appsilon) explained how the algorithm can help inform conservation efforts.

Global warming, deforestation and poaching

Forest mammals of Central Africa are finding themselves in an increasingly challenging environment. Rising global temperatures and land conversions are pushing them to move poleward or to higher elevations in search for suitable habitats. Driven by global demand for bushmeat and other animal parts, the mammals are put under further pressure, exacerbating existing population declines and their risk of extinction. To monitor the wildlife, small devices (called camera traps) have been installed across numerous remote ecosystems such as rainforests. These can capture images of bypassing wildlife. However, “the challenge in using them is that they collect vast amounts of images”, explains Jędrzej. Typically, processing a single batch of such images can take up to several weeks, leaving countless images unclassified.

Automating the process

The algorithm Mbaza AI enables an automation of that process: It can process up to 3000 images an hour, saving thousands of hours of manual labour. “To date, Mbaza AI has processed more than 500 thousand images, contributing to the protection of endangered species”, as proudly stated by Jędrzej. The underlying models have thereby been trained on vast datasets of pictures (exceeding 10 million). The application can also operate fully offline. “This is particularly useful in the remote areas such as rainforests because internet access is often very scarce there”, he stresses. 

An intuitive tool

The team behind the algorithm has given a particular effort to making the application as user-friendly as possible: “This makes it easy to use by people without strict computer science backgrounds, which is particularly useful for national park rangers”, explains Jędrzej. Moreover, distributed completely free of charge under an open-source license, everyone who is willing to contribute is “invited and welcome to do so”. 

Mbaza AI is a joint effort by Appsilon and academic, governmental and non-governmental partners. More information about the open-source algorithm can be found on Appsilon’s website. The underlying code is available on GitHub. Jędrzej also co-authored articles on the automated labelling of camera trap images for ecological analyses (see this and this article). 


Georgia DIP and AI Research Project

Georgia DIP and AI Research Project

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published the digital innovation profile for Georgia, a document analysing digital innovation ecosystem in Georgia, focusing on the opportunities and challenges in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). The document had been prepared with the collaboration of IRCAI experts.

Highlights from the 16th ASEF Classroom Network Conference

Educators and professionals from across Europe and Asia gathered in the picturesque city of Ljubljana, Slovenia, from November 12-15, 2023, for the 16th ASEF Classroom Network Conference. Hosted by the International Research Centre on AI under the Auspices of UNESCO (IRCAI) and supported by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, this annual event was a success: it brought teachers together, facilitated the creation of new partnerships, answered some questions about AI in education and uncovered many new and important ones.

In Person Meeting of the African Members of the NAIXUS Network of AI Researchers on AI and Development

In Person Meeting of the African Members of the NAIXUS Network of AI Researchers on AI and Development

The NAIXUS project (Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs) convened a significant meeting during the Deep Learning Indaba 2023. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the progress of the project, share insights, and plan future actions to strengthen the network’s impact on advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through artificial intelligence (AI) research.

Workshop at the Deep Learning Indaba 2023: “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs” 

Workshop at the Deep Learning Indaba 2023: “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs” 

The International Research Institute on AI under the auspices of UNESCO (IRCAI) and its core members in the Network of Excellence NAIXUS; a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at bridging the gap between AI and sustainable development hosted a meeting amd a workshop in Accra, Ghana. Both events were held as part of the Deep Learning Indaba 2023 Forum on September 8 and 9 and were co-hosted by the NAIXUS members from Africa.


International Research Centre
on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI)
under the auspices of UNESCO 

Jožef Stefan Institute
Jamova cesta 39
SI-1000 Ljubljana


The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this website do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Design by Ana Fabjan