Towards a Better Understanding of the Computer Vision Research Community in Africa

Abstract

Computer vision is a broad field of study that encompasses different tasks (e.g., object detection, semantic segmentation, 3D reconstruction). Although computer vision is relevant to the African communities in various applications, yet computer vision research is under-explored in the continent and constructs only 0.06% of top-tier publications in the last ten years. In this paper, our goal is to have a better understanding of the computer vision research conducted in Africa and provide pointers on whether there is equity in research or not. We do this through an empirical analysis of the African computer vision publications that are Scopus indexed, where we collect around 63,000 publications over the period 2012-2022. We first study the opportunities available for African institutions to publish in top-tier computer vision venues. We show that African publishing trends in top-tier venues over the years do not exhibit consistent growth, unlike other continents such as North America or Asia. Moreover, we study all computer vision publications beyond top-tier venues in different African regions to find that mainly Northern and Southern Africa are publishing in computer vision with 68.5% and 15.9% of publications, resp. Nonetheless, we highlight that both Eastern and Western Africa are exhibiting a promising increase with the last two years closing the gap with Southern Africa. Additionally, we study the collaboration patterns in these publications to find that most of these exhibit international collaborations rather than African ones. We also show that most of these publications include an African author that is a key contributor as the first or last author. Finally, we present the most recurring keywords in computer vision publications per African region. In summary, our analysis reveals that African researchers are key contributors to African research, yet there exists multiple barriers to publish in top-tier venues and establish African collaborations. Additionally, the question on whether there is an alignment between the current computer vision topics published in Africa and the most urgent needs in African communities remains unanswered. In this work we took the first step of documenting per-region published topics and we leave it for future work to investigate the latter question. This work is part of a community based effort that is focused on improving the computer vision research in Africa, where we question whether researchers across the different regions have access to equal opportunities to lead their research or not.

Houcemeddine Turki
Houcemeddine Turki
Medical student

My research interests include the development of a large-scale framework for using open resources and semantic technologies for driving biomedical informatics and research evaluation at a low cost.