The Big Data and Business Analytics Conference 2019 (DABConference) held in Lagos, Nigeria between 5th and 6th of March 2019 provided a veritable platform for leading figures in the Big Data and Business Analytics circle across Sub-Saharan Africa to exchange innovative ideas, latest research results, practical experiences and lessons learned in the area of Big Data and Business Analytics across the continent.
Experts at the two-day event organized by the Information and Data Analytics Foundation (iDAF) and sponsored by Heckerbella Limited, AELEX, Zenvus, and Layer3 described data as the new oil, urging business owners and the government to take advantage of their data as intellectual property to make informed strategic business and policy decisions.
The experts further demonstrated the uses of big-data applications in various domains such as healthcare, business and financing, education and learning, social networks and media, urban and environment, sensors and Internet of things as well as technology aspects of big data computing and services such as data mining and analytics.
The over eighteen Business Leaders, Public and private Sector Policy Makers, leading Big Data and Business Analytics experts covered a broad range of topics including Data Science and the Future of Work, Using AI and Blockchain to Monetize the Mobile Economy, Analytics in Cybersecurity, Customer Analytics, Examining the Legal Framework for Data Protection in Nigeria, Fraud Analytics, Disrupting Agricultural Value Chain Development Through Data Analytics: The Anambra Story, The Role of Data in Deepening Financial Inclusion, Big Data Analytics in the Development of Smallholder Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa, Abundance in the Data of Nations, and the Challenges of collecting, cleaning and analyzing data in Nigeria.
Theophilus Medeiros, lead convener of the DABConference, in his opening remarks said that Nigerian companies do not yet have the needed expertise to take advantage of artificial intelligence in their operations and would need to make the necessary investment decisions to be able to fully adopt artificial intelligence in the future.
He said: “While your organization is probably not going to turn into Google overnight, decisions and investments that you make today will dramatically affect your ability to adopt machine intelligence in the future. The future of work in Africa will be largely dependent on Data.”
He advised that weaving modern AI advances into any organization requires executive commitment, deep technical understanding, new organizational capabilities, openness to experimentation and lots of data.
Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe delivering his Keynote speech on the Abundance in the Data of Nations, said all the activities carried out by businesses involve data but that the understanding and the capacity to make sense of that data determines the success of the business.
“The world is made up of data and it means that the business of humanity is about manipulation, processing, computing, adding, subtracting and making sense of data. And if you can make sense of that, you understand the world,” he said.
The speakers unanimously agreed that though data in Africa is still at its infancy stage, the continent is in a prime position to take the lion share of the big data market, which is worth an estimated USD$42 billion. According to them, this is because the continent has favorable demographics; high and increasing internet penetration and changing education trends.
Shingai Manjengwa, CEO Fireside Analytics, while speaking on Data Science Skills and the Future of Work submitted that there is a huge shortage in the number of young Africans with Data Science Skills, adding that the gap must be bridged as a matter of urgency. She said automation forms one of the most critical parts of the future of work because it has the potential to replace 51% of jobs across multiple sectors that Africa is dependent on.
“Africa’s future of work story will be different from developed markets. With much of the workforce of tomorrow, we can program the requisite skills today by embracing Data Science.
“The big data market is worth an estimated USD$42 billion and Africans are well positioned to contribute significantly to this economy due to three factors, namely, favorable demographics; high and increasing internet penetration and changing education trends,” she said.
Also speaking on automation, Prof. Anindya Ghose said automation is a mixed bag of good and bad news. Bad news because it reduces the amount of jobs available to humans and good news because it helps organizations to achieve more efficiency and to work better.
In his presentation, Bayo Adekanmbi, Chief Transformation Officer of MTN Nigeria, said that the quality of analytics is proportional to the quality of data. He advised that the brilliance brought to analytics must also be applied to data collection, citing the example of a telco in India which uses its advertising billboards to collect data by harvesting rain water for the use of drought-hit communities in the country.
Discussing what lessons she has learnt in deploying data and analytics in her organization, Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, Founder Rise Networks and Rise Labs, designers of ‘Ise’ the first Job Bot in West Africa, said that Data Analytics makes the bot able to provide prompt answers to an array of enquiries made from it by users on various aspects of Career Growth, Job Searches, and Work Readiness.
The impressive line-up at the event included: Prof. Emmanuel Sonaiya, Professor of Animal Science at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife; Prof Ndubuisi Ekekwe, Founder and Chairman of Fasmicro; Prof. Anindya Ghose, Professor of Business at NYU, Stern; Yemi Keri, CEO of Heckerbella; Shingai Manjengwa, CEO of Fireside Analytics (Canada); Bayo Adekanmbi, Chief Transformation Officer, MTN Nigeria; Andrew Collier, Lead Data Scientist at Exegetic Analytics (South Africa) and Prof. Bitange Ndemo, Professor of Entrepreneurship (Kenya); Ugwem Eneyo, CEO Solstice Energy Solutions; Hon. Afam Mbanefo, Commissioner of Agriculture, Anambra State; Theo Medeiros, Founder of iDAF.
Others are Adeyemi Odeneye, Lead Data Scientist; Temitope Azeez, People Director, Jumia Services; Tony Ayabam, CEO of Infohob; Adedayo Ojo, CEO of Caritas Group amongst other speakers.