Frequently Asked Questions

How do I compete in Zindi competitions?
You will build a machine learning model based on the training data provided. You will submit your model results for the test dataset. Your submission will be automatically evaluated against the test dataset using the evaluation metrics created for the competition. During the competition you will be able to see your score on the Public Leaderboard - this shows your results for a portion of the test data. Your final Private Leaderboard score, which represents your model result evaluated the remaining portion of the test dataset, will be revealed on the closing date of the competition.
How do I get started with a Zindi competition? I am having trouble entering a competition
  • Make sure you create an account and sign in to Zindi
  • Browse competitions here
  • Join the competition — you must enter to download the data
  • Familiarise yourself with the competition information and rules
  • Download the data
  • Build your model in any language, using any open-source packages, using the training data provided. Specific requirements will be in the Competition Rules.
  • Submit the results of your model against the test set provided (specific requirements will be in the Competition Rules).
  • Make sure your submission file is formatted correctly (see Sample Submission file). Remember to set your index to False.
  • See yourself on the Public Leaderboard!
  • The final winners will be announced at the close of the competition
Can I join Zindi even if I am not African?
Yes. Anyone can join Zindi and enter our competitions. Some competitions, however, may reserve certain categories of prizes for data scientists living in Africa. We do this to support and grow the data science community in Africa. Any such restrictions will be stated in the specific competition rules.
Do I need to submit my code?
During a competition, you will submit only the results of your model against a test dataset, not the code or the model itself. However, iIf you win a competition and are eligible for prize money, you will be required to submit your code.
How do I win?
The most accurate results against the test set wins. Accuracy will be measured with a set algorithm stated in the competition rules. Examples of algorithms include: Mean Absolute Error, Weighted Mean Absolute Error, Root Mean Squared Error, Log Loss, Area Under Curve (AUC), Mean Average Precision. You will be ranked based on your best submission.
Will I give up rights to my solution if I enter a competition?
For most competitions, upon submission of your solution (i.e. code/model), rights to the solution are transferred to Zindi and/or the competition host. Please see the specific rules for each competition. Remember that in many competitions, shared data can only be used for the purposes of the competition.
How will I get my prize money? Are there any conditions?
The prize money will be paid directly to you in full. You are responsible for any fees or taxes liable in your home country upon receiving the funds. Any relevant conditions will be stated in the Competition Rules and Terms of Use.
What is the Public and Private Leaderboard?
The leaderboard that you see while a competition is still open is the Public Leaderboard. For most competitions, unless stated otherwise, this leaderboard is based on a portion of the test data. When you make a submission, your submission evaluated against this portion of the test data and you are ranked on the Public Leaderboard. The results you submit are also simultaneously ranked on a Private Leaderboard that uses the remaining test data. At the close of the competition, the Private Leaderboard will be made public. Prizes are awarded based on the Private Leaderboard scores.
Why is my private leaderboard score so different to my Public Leaderboard score?
Your Private Leaderboard score evaluates your model against a holdout portion of the test dataset, only revealed on the close of the competition. If your Public and Private Leaderboard scores differ drastically your model is likely overfitting.
Are teams allowed?
Yes, for specific competitions, teams are allowed. Remember, teams are subject to Team Rules.
What does Zindi mean?
Zindi is a play on two Swahili words: zidisha (increase) and mshindi (winner). For us, it means to keep growing and succeeding in everything you do.
I haven’t received an email verification email
Get your confirmation email resent.
How can I delete my account?
Sign into Zindi. Navigate to Edit Profile → Settings. Once you initiate the deletion process, you will immediately be logged out and your account will be completely deleted in two weeks. Deletion will be cancelled if you sign in during this two week period. Once your account is deleted, discussions, comments and participation in closed competitions will be anonymised. Your participation in active competitions will be retracted.
I want to host a hackathon

We should be launching hackathon functionality soon. In the mean time please email

To run a hackathon successfully, we need:

  1. A training data set that for people train their model on. Usually about 80 or 75% of all the observations you have.
  2. A test data set with everything except the target variable. Usually about 25% of all the observations you have.
  3. A reference file. Usually a 2 column table with a unique ID and the correct target from the test set

We prefer data to be under 10GB and we have the main error metrics to choose from. Additionally, a Google doc will be shared with the host to collaborate on the hackathon.

I want to host a competition
Please email with the subject line “Host a competition.” In your email describe what problem you would like to address and how you see machine learning assisting you.
I want to sponsor a challenge
This is great! Please email with the subject line “Sponsor a challenge.”
Can I use competition data for a school or university project?
It depends on the dataset and host. Please email us on to enquire about specific datasets.
I have a dataset I would like to share with Zindi and the community
You can post a link to the dataset on the Zindi discussion board, or if you think it would be a good dataset for a challenge email
How do I become a Zindi Ambassador?

Our Ambassadors play a critical role in creating awareness and social involvement at the grassroots level. Being an Ambassador is a volunteer position.

At a high-level, we envisage the Ambassador role to encompass the following:

  • Promote Zindi on social media and during speaking engagements;
  • Encourage data scientists in your community to sign-up on Zindi;
  • Continue to run hackathons, meet-ups, and training events that support the data science community in your city/country;
  • Connect Zindi with potential partners, data sets, and competition hosts in your city/country

We are slowly growing this program and are out to individuals. If you feel it has what it takes please email with the subject line “Ambassador Query”

How are points calculated?
Five (5) points are awarded for each first submission to a challenge. For prized competitions, the number of points available are equal to prize money value. For prized and points challenges the top 10 winners receive a percentage of the points corresponding to their rank. The first place winner will receive 100% of the points, 2nd place will receive 90% of the points, 3rd place will receive 80% and so forth.
Can I still participate in a competition if it is closed?
Yes, you can still make submissions and receive a score. However, your score will not reflect on the leaderboard as it is sealed after the close of a challenge.
Do you have other questions that were not answered? Please contact us!