Young Nigerians in their hundreds participated in the maiden workshop for the Data Science Nigeria aimed at positioning the country to benefit from the growing global importance of data and data science in proffering solutions to the myriads of human challenges.
Speaking at the workshop in Lagos recently, the convener and moderator of the event, BayoAdekanmbi, a C-Level Executive with MTN Nigeria, informed the audience that the initiative, a professional-led approachis designed to train and mentor young Nigerians through face-to-face, virtual online classes, project-based support and holiday boot camps. The ultimate intent of which is to raise a special breed of entrepreneurs who will set up data science based businesses and attract foreign exchange to the nation.
He disclosed that the initiative is a give-back project premised on what he has learnt across the world especially during his recent one-year PhD research sabbatical inthe UK, India and America.
“India is already tapping into the Data Science space and I believe Nigeria can become Africa’s data science outsourcing destination with our brilliant undergraduates, graduates and young analysts with degrees in Engineering/Sciences and other numerate subjects”.
According to him, data and data science will become the oil of the 21st century and Nigeria must join the league of countries that will be positioned for comparative advantage in data science. The workshop assembled leading lights in Data Science to mentor participants as panelists. These includeNgoziDozie of OneFi Nigeria, Dr. Femi Oyenuga of Oracle, SeunOnigbinde of BudgIT and IyinoluwaAboyeji, Founder, Andela while a US-based Nigerian leading data scientist and IBM Distinguished Engineer/Chief Data Scientist, Dr. Uyi Stewart inspired and motivated the audience with his presentation titled: Leveraging Data Science to enable Nigeria Leapfrog”
The panel analyzing the growing importance of data science submits that countries, organizations and individuals need to make smart and sharper decisions, to do these “they need data and data scientists”. According to them, data science is the potpourri of information and insights intelligently brought together to add value to human life. This can be done by studying pattern over time in a bid to build intelligence.
However, to become proficient in data science, both soft and technical skills are needed. These include natural curiousity, communication, romance with data and attention to details. Attention to details is critical, emphasized the Aboyeji (Andela) unfortunately, not many Nigerians are good at this, he said, “the world is still a secret, you make money by identifying those secrets and proffering solutions to solve the challenges”.
Delivering his keynote, Dr. Uyi who currently holds 10 patents in the US, said, “Nigeria is at the tipping point with two choices open to her: investing in infrastructure or invest in data which is technology that will bring about transformational change through killer applications”.
“Investing in infrastructure will only bring about incremental change, this is where most of us are right now” said Dr. Uyi “If we decided to invest in infrastructure we choose to compete with the Chinese, we have to maintain the structure unfortunately, we do not have maintenance culture. We can achieve progress through data not infrastructure”, he submitted.
According to the IBM Chief Scientist, “Data is the new basis of comparative advantage”, he disclosed that we are surrounded by a sea of data with 2.5 Gigabytes of data generated every day.