Robots Mali

Organisation Profile


Robots Mali have generated children’s story books and a teachers’ guide through AI. The text for the books and guides is generated by Chat GPT, then translated by another transformer model to Bambara, which the is the local language. They also use AI tools for image generation to go alongside the text.

What type of products are you working on?

Our main AI project is creating children’s books and pedagogical materials in Bambara. The creation process for this uses generative AI and automatic translation. This project is currently in a piloting phase.

To develop this, we have created Automated translation (transformer) from French-Bambara, which is in early development.

What has surprised you about using AI for education?

AI has transitioned from being very difficult – requiring advanced education and training – to a technology that can be used to create products by non-expert developers and sometimes even by people without engineering or software development experience.

Where have you seen the biggest impact for teachers/ students?

Our current project, using Generative AI and AT to produce children’s books in their mother tongue, has wildly exceeded our expectations. It has excited children about reading and demonstrated AI can produce stories that get children actively reading in astonishingly short periods of time.

What are you hoping can be achieved through collaboration with the community?

The advances in AI and African languages have come from collaboration. The community that has formed around this has put the question of African languages on the agenda for AI development. Education in low-income countries is massively under-resourced but AI can change the situation much faster than anyone had imagined. As with languages, we will need to work together to produce solutions and advocate the importance of education in low-resource environments for AI development.

How can a community help you?

For language work, most languages in Africa cross national boundaries so we need regional collaborations. Our resources are too small to handle projects that need either the highest levels of expertise or large amounts of computation. We would like to increase our capacity through collaboration with others. By working together as a community we can have visibility that we could never achieve as a small organisation in a country that most people have never heard of. By combining our efforts and resources we can make high quality applications and make a bigger impact than lower quality products developed with smaller resources.

Finally, we need advocacy to influence governments, funders and the corporate giants like Google, Meta, etc. Companies determine so much of what is and is not possible in AI and can stamp out our initiatives like a giant stepping on ants when they roll out new products and updates that impact upon and have the potential to make our work obsolete.

What are the biggest challenges you are currently facing?

The biggest challenge is funding. As a small African organisation it is difficult to get funding. Especailly in education – a sector that is not focused on profit and suffers from a lack of long term planning. 

On the technical side, although generative AI is extremely useful, large language models have a western bias and existing models are not designed for the African context.

Using generative AI to produce teaching & learning materials.

Large Language Models
Large Multi-Modal Models
NLP: Generation
NLP: Translation
MM: Text2Image

Based in Mali


Developing products for Mali


Michael Leventhal


President of the Board of Directors

By combining our efforts and resources we can make high quality applications and make a bigger impact than lower quality products developed with smaller resources.

Michael Leventhal

President of the Board of Directors, RobotsMali

Using generative AI to to create educational materials in Bambara, Mali.

Learning By Doing

We are providing small grants to support the development of AI products & components in LMICs. We know that innovation investment is high-risk. Our aim is that our community can benefit from the lessons learned in these pilots – what works and what doesn’t.

Learn more about our pilot projects here. We will be following each project and reporting on key learnings.

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