Sunday, August 12, 2018 9:00AM / Data Science
A rapidly growing universal truth today is that all roads lead to data. Data and its application in Artificial Intelligence (AI) can become a sustainable basis for socio-economic development and breakthrough innovations that address the millennium development goals (MDGs).
Reflecting on the past year, the extensive activities and focused intervention of Data Science Nigeria demonstrate how Nigeria is setting itself up for a period of unprecedented growth in harnessing the benefits of intelligent systems to drive incremental local capacity, skill development and socioeconomic development.
Since our inception in December 2016, the Data Scientists Network Foundation has been working to create a range of capacity building initiatives to advance the socio- economic development of Nigeria at both the local and national levels.
We are achieving this by taking a solution-oriented approach to the application of machine learning to solve social and business problems, particularly the MDGs and galvanizing the data science knowledge revolution for sustainable value creation in Nigeria.
Our approach is to further the MDG's goals by understanding the data imperatives and how local insights can accelerate a focused application of data science for the development of Nigeria's emerging market through job creation, data-centric entrepreneurship and localised innovations.
On a global level and over the past two centuries, general-purpose technological advancements have been the driving force of economic growth. In recent years, artificial intelligence has been considered to be an influential general purpose technology that is increasingly being adopted by all industries.
AI has a huge potential to drive economic growth and to increase productivity. In fact, research by Accenture Institute for High Performance, in collaboration with Frontier Economics shows that AI has the potential to double growth rates in 12 developed countries by 2035. This represents an expected increase of 40% in labour productivity. AI and data science are likely to have even more impact in developing countries by solving problems in essential sectors such as finance, healthcare, farming and resource provision.
In Africa, technological innovation is critical to enhance economic growth and improve performance in essential sectors. Foreign investors are attracted to Africa because of its high population and economic growth, large base of middle class consumers, increasing investments in infrastructure and its improving educational levels. This must be complemented with a rich cluster of talents in AI and advanced data analytics who can leverage this data revolution to drive further foreign investment in the Nigerian economy.
2017/2018 has been a most exciting period for Data Science Nigeria. One of our members, Zynab Ishaq Musa and her team at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria won the regional prize of the US-based Hultz Prize Award for a project on the use of machine learning to solve energy problems. Our mentorship programme, Mentor African Data Scientists, kicked off with over 100 mentors and mentees. We now have over 100 PhD level academic and industry practitioners across the world who are mentors supporting the real-world application of learning.
Another significant event was the launch of a dedicated Artificial Intelligence Community Hub at the University of Lagos. This serves as a physical space that supports students who want to explore multidisciplinary research in AI via Skype-based mentoring classes given by international experts and local master classes. It also provides a platform for regular meet-ups, masterclasses and a library stocked with the latest theoretical books, beginner’s series and inspirational AI series. We hope that with the available data collection tools and high-powered devices at the hub more students will explore highscale AI in areas like precision farming, health and financial inclusion.
Indeed, I can say that data is now the core of today's business and the ultimate enabler of the evolution of the 21st century society. The future belongs to those who have and are able to leverage big data to gain actionable insights in ways that help to guide business decisions, enhance service provision to customers, and mitigate risks.
I am proud to present the Data Science Nigeria 2017– 2018 Annual Report. We thank all of you for your continued support as partners, participants, volunteers and industry/academic partners. With your continued support, we're helping to create a positive revolution for Nigeria and the world at large.
Olubayo (Bayo) Adekanmbi
Convener, Data Science Nigeria
Download the Full Report HERE