‘Africa Needs Repository of Data Analytics to Achieve Digital Economy’

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By Emma Okonji

Nigeria and other African countries have been advised to develop data economies, through the creation of repository of data analytics that will help the continent achieve its dream of digital economy.

To achieve this, African countries must create data science products, collect high value data sets, develop Application Programming Interfaces (API), develop apps and games for sale, develop African solutions as well as global solutions, that will drive the future of work for Africa, and at the same time achieve Africa’s digital economy.

The advice was given by experts at the Big Data and Business Analytics conference, powered by Information and Data Analytics Foundation (iDAF), which held in Lagos recently.

With the theme: ‘Unleashing The Power of Data Analytics to Drive Business Result,’ organisations were urged to invest and develop skills in data analytics to enable them make informed business decisions, irrespective of the sector they operate in.

In his presentation, the Statistician General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale, who was represented by a senior management staff at National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Mrs. Lola Talabi-Oni, spoke on the readiness of Nigeria for the big data evolution that is sweeping across globe, the opportunities around big data and its implications for business. Kale who stressed the need for a policy framework that would drive big data analytics in Nigeria and the rest of African countries, said African governments must develop policies that would enhance data collection and analytics.

Addressing the challenges of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in data analytics, the Lead Convener and Founder of iDAF, Mr. Theophilus Mederios, said “Buying a tool from a third party vendor will not magically make organisations the leading AI company. Currently, only a handful of leading technology companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon, possess the culture, talent and infrastructure to innovate at the cutting-edge of AI.”

He therefore stressed the need for organisations and individuals to invest in data analytics because decisions and investments made with the help of data analytics, would enhance the ability to adopt machine intelligence in the future.
“For companies that do not have technology as a core competency, even getting started can be a daunting task,” Mederios said.
The CEO, Fireside Analytics Company that is based in Toronto, Canada, Mrs. Shingai Manjengwa, highlighted opportunities that the informal sector presents in the area of unstructured data, which she said, could be converted into structured data and used for informed decision making.

“There are volumes of transactions going on in the informal sector without actual data to track them, and this is where skills in data analytics come into play, and there are innovative solutions that can solve the challenges of data in the informal sector,” Manjengwa said.

“It is incumbent on all to understand the power of data analytics that will help make informed decision in the design and development of solutions that will drive the next generation workforce, without leaving it in hands of policy makers,” Manjengwa added.

She, however, argued that Africa do not have enough data specifically for automation, adding that studies have been carried out in different parts of the world to prove that Africa do not have adequate data on how many jobs will be replaced by robots and machines in the future workforce. But with automation technology, we need data that will present the true position of future workforce that will be driven by data analytics, she said.