Data Science Nigeria (DSN), a non-profit initiated by MTN’s executive, Mr Bayo Adekanmbi is driving industry-level discussions about Nigeria’s need to build its big data/machine learning ecosystem, with the goal of being well positioned to access a 10 percent share of the global data analytics outsourcing market, which is expected to garner $5.9 billion by 2020, according to Allied Research Group.
To facilitate the discussions and help practitioners prepare for this opportunity, Data Science Nigeria hosted an industry engagement summit and a follow-up four-day Bootcamp with leading industry stakeholders, including statistician Dr Yemi Kale, Statistician General of the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and many leading professionals and academics in the private and public sectors. Speaking at the summit, Dr. Kale said that the value of data is enormous and that Data Science Nigeria’s initiative to equip future data scientists is a veritable initiative harnessing untapped potentials in the data analytics industry. He stated that “Data is money. Some of the multinationals like WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook may be providing their services for free, but they are worth billions of Naira. What they do to make so much money is sell data.” He said: “We understand that oil has been the primary source of revenue for Nigeria, but if we start taking this seriously, data could be more valuable than the oil.
In his industry perspective presentation, Mr. Olumide Olayinka, Partner and Head of Analytics Practice, KPMG Nigeria said that “Some organizations do not even understand that they need data scientists, and unfortunately this subject is not even discussed in the boardroom”. He also advanced the argument that, “Machine learning and artificial intelligence are not taking away our jobs; [they facilitate] the rise of humans to create better jobs”. His view was shared by Mr. Dozie Uzoma, the CEO of Diamond Bank, who spoke about why a CEO needs data science. He said, “Twenty years ago, accountants were important as they looked at historical records. Today, data scientists are important because we want algorithms that understand the future and can predict how to meet the needs of customers”.
Two-panel discussions were also held to discuss a Nigeria-centric big data roadmap and local case studies. The leading experts in these discussions included James Agada, CEO, CWG; Wale Olokodana, Director, Enterprise Commercial Segment, Microsoft; Babafemi Ogungbamila, CIO, Interswitch; Chika Nwobi, CEO, L5Lab; Emeka Okoye, CEO, Cymantiks; Yomi Akinyemi, Senior Manager, Analytics, KPMG; Chidiebele Ifediora, Technical Sales Leader, IBM; Nadayar Enegesi, Director, Andela; Bernard Ewah, CCO Keoun.ng; Steve Baba-Eko, CEO X3M; Dr. Tunji Adegbesan, Founder Gidimo; Mr Foh Patrick, Software Engineer, Maxdotng; Ngozi Dozie, Director, OneFi; Samuel Odeloye, Co-Founder Lara.ng; Dele Tejuoso, Founder, Wifi Combat and Professor Ndubuisi Ekekwe, a US-based Nigerian scholar and the inventor of Zenvus, a precision agriculture solution powered by big data. In his practical application presentation, Prof Ekekwe remarked that technology improves productivity rates and simplifies all the industrial sectors of any economy. In Nigeria’s case, to transition from “a petroleum-driven economy to a possible data-driven economy, Nigeria needs to build the necessary model that would enable that.”
Data Science is globally celebrated as the No 1 career taking the first spot in Glassdoor’s Best Jobs in America list in 2016 and 2017, while Harvard Business Review described it as the sexiest job of the 21st century. A new study by CareerCast.com revealed data scientist jobs have the best growth potential over the next seven years, as they are one of the toughest jobs to fill.The summit and the Bootcamp were supported by Microsoft, 4Afrika, Interswitch, Diamond Bank, OneFi, L5Lab, Keoun.ng, KPMG, ProShare Nigeria, Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, DataCamp, BusinessDay, CFATech.ng, BrandCrunch and the Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa.