Dr. Timnit Gebru

Title: The hierarchy of knowledge in machine learning and related fields and its consequences


Until recently she left, Timnit Gebru co-lead the Ethical Artificial Intelligence research team at Google, working to reduce the potential negative impacts of  AI. Timnit earned her doctorate under the supervision of Fei-Fei Li at Stanford University in 2017 and did a postdoc at Microsoft Research NYC in the FATE team. She is also the cofounder of Black in AI, a place for sharing ideas, fostering collaborations and discussing initiatives to increase the presence of Black people in the field of Artificial Intelligence.


Feminist and race and gender scholars have long critiqued “the view from nowhere” that assumes science is “objective” and studied from no particular standpoint. In this talk, Timnit will discuss how this view has resulted in a hierarchy of knowledge in machine learning and related fields, devaluing some types of work and knowledge (e.g. those related to data production, annotation and collection practices) and mostly amplifying specific types of contributions. This hierarchy also results in valuing contributions from some disciplines (e.g. Physics) more than others (e.g. race and gender studies). The speaker will include the examples from her own life, education etc.

Prof. Girma Gebresenbet

Division of Automation and Logistics, Department of Energy and Technology Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Title: Digitalization and automation in agriculture and potential applications in Low-income countries


Girma Gebresenbet is a Professor and Head of Automation and Logistics Division at the Department of Energy and Technology of Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He obtained MSc degree is in Mechanical Engineering with honor degree, specialized in Design and Development in 1983. His PhD is in Agricultural Engineering and obtained a special reward from the Swedish Academy of Forestry and Agriculture for the outstanding doctoral dissertation of the year in 1991. He became Associate Professor in 1996 and Professor in 2000.

Currently Prof Gebresenbet is coordinating and managing many national and international research projects in many countries (European and African universities), mainly in the subject area of application of digitalization and automation in the areas of Agriculture, Logistics, Supply and Value Chains. Prof Girma Gebresenbet supervised 15 PhD candidates and currently supervising 9 PhD students. Besides collaborative research projects, he supports universities in Ethiopia, in teaching and supervising both MSc and PhD students.


The integration of   advanced technologies into the existing farming practices makes smart and digital farming to increase production efficiency, quality of agricultural products, reduce environmental impact of agriculture, and significantly improve the quality of life for farm workers by reducing heavy land tedious lour and minimizing accident.

In high-income countries, applications of digitalization and automation in agriculture is progressing. The application includes using of advanced technologies for autonomous and robotic labour; precession seedling and planting; driverless tractor and other machinery; smart weeding and crop maintenance; harvesting and pruning; use of drones for imaging; real time monitoring and analysis; integrating sensors and use of Internet of Things (IOT) for agricultural activities.  The current paper highlights the state of the art of implementation of digitalization and automation, and discusses the opportunities and barriers of application in low-income countries.

Dr. Abraha Adugna Ashenafi

Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy of Ethiopia and Mekelle University

Title: GERD regional/national importance and possible challenges


Dr. Abraha Adugna Ashenafi is a State Minster in the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy of Ethiopia and Assistant professor in Civil engineering Mekelle University. He obtained bachelor degree in Hydraulic Engineering with distinction in 2002 and MSc. in Water Science and Engineering specialized in hydro informatics in UNESCO-IHE, the Netherlands in 2004. His PhD is in Water Resource Engineering. He has worked at different levels and positions in water sector before he joined Mekelle University. After joining the university, he was head of the department of civil engineering and researcher in water resource and environment chair. Then Join the water resource sector and leading the regional water resource bureau before he resumes the State Minster position.
He is now working in the Ministry of Water, irrigation, and energy in a position of State Minster leading the irrigation development sector and the basins affairs authority.


Ethiopia generates 86% of the Nile flow with a total average annual low of 77 billion cubic meters. The Nile is as important to Ethiopia as it is to Egypt, Sudan, and a source of livelihood and economic development for the Ethiopian population of 110 million people. For Ethiopia accessing and utilizing its water resources is not a matter of choice, but an imperative of continued existence. GERD (the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) therefore is a matter of survival. The decision to construct such a mega dam on the Blue Nile was reached after an assessment made by the Ethiopian government about the benefits of the dam to Ethiopia and downstream countries of the Nile-namely, Egypt and Sudan. The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has conceived half a century ago to meet the energy demands of the country and as a vehicle to eradicate poverty. The GERD is a hydroelectric dam, which Ethiopia is building over the Nile using its legitimate right.

Ethiopia’s consistent policy to recognize the right of all riparian countries to equitably and reasonably utilization of the Nile, Ethiopia demonstrated its commitment to foster cooperation and attain a win-win outcome on GERD negotiation building over the Nile. However, the construction and negotiation of GERD is challenged by the downstream countries by misleading the international communities. Negotiation on GERD must ensure that the rights of the current and future generations of Ethiopia to use their water resources.

Sustained peace and stability, economic integration and overall amity in Africa is dependent on establishment of a fair, balanced, and equitable framework for utilization of transboundary water resources such as the Nile. Discussions on the GERD are limited in scope to filling and operation of the Dam and is not related to adopting a water allocation agreement.

Using this dam to meet the energy demands of the country and as a vehicle to eradicate poverty is considered as the main challenge by the downstream countries in the trilateral talks. The nexus between the GERD rules and the future use of the Nile upstream of the GERD is the chief issue of contention. On this pivotal issue, Egypt and Sudan seek to maintain their “existing use” by making the GERD rules play a role of a water allocation agreement that limits Ethiopia’s right only to the GERD. Whereas Ethiopia is of the position that the GERD rules can never be confused with future use and water allocation and Ethiopia remains unhinged by these rules in its future use. However, Ethiopia stands ready to determine the water share by a comprehensive water treaty.