With competition in the market stiffening, organizations are turning to data analytics to identify new opportunities for their services and products
By Catherine Kuria
There is significant and growing demand for data-savvy professionals in businesses, public agencies and nonprofit organizations. The supply of professionals who can work effectively with data at scale is limited. It is reflected by rapidly rising salaries for data engineers, data scientists, statisticians and data analysts. Data is increasingly becoming cheap and ubiquitous. We are now digitizing analogue content that was created centuries ago, while collecting a
myriad of new types of data from web logs, mobile devices, sensors, instruments and transactions. Virtually every sector of the economy now has access to more data than would have been imaginable a decade ago. Businesses today are accumulating new data at a rate that exceeds their capacity to extract value from it. The question facing every organization that wants to attract a community is how to use data effectively — not just its own data, but all the data that is available and relevant.
What is Data Science?
Data science is a concept to unify statistics, data analysis, machine learning and their related methods in order to understand and analyze actual phenomena with data. It employs techniques and theories drawn from many fields within the broad areas of mathematics, statistics and information science. Jim Gray, winner of the Turing Award imagined data science as a “fourth paradigm” of science (empirical, theoretical, computational and now data-driven).
He asserted that everything about science is changing because of the impact of information technology and the data
Mu-Data Analytics Institute is an organization based in Germany. It was formed by a group of professionals from different countries residing in Germany. They are data science professionals who work with data analysis and science in different fields and sectors. They came together because they had one common agenda; giving back to the society. They came up with the idea of giving back through capacity building, research and training. They wanted to pilot the idea of how Diaspora can come together, unite themselves from different sectors and channel all their knowledge into giving back to the communities that they come from. In Africa especially Kenya, we are generating a lot of mobile data but many people lack the knowledge of how to generate money out of it. At Mu-Data Analytics Institute, they develop strategies of how one can come up with data, draw knowledge and information out of it in
order to scale up your business.
Mobile money transfer was invented in Kenya and this technology allows people to generate data on their handsets. They aim at training the people how to commercialize their alogarithm and make money out of their inventions. The solution to solve any problems of the African market lies within us Africans. Only we know what our problems are and how we can solve them. Mu-Data Analytics Institute has partnered with Mount Kenya University to train small business people on data collection and usage. They want to create an awareness of the impact of data science on businesses. They will be working with SME’s and any company that has been in existence for at least 5 years. “We are giving back to the society by providing our own resources in terms of being physically present, the knowledge that we are bringing back home and understanding what the needs of our people are to help come up with solution,” narrates Dr. Emily Kesse, Head of PR, Mu-Data Analytics Institute.
The team will tour 5 Counties in the country; Nairobi, Nyeri, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru and Mombasa. In each of these
counties, they will bring data science awareness and teach the basics of data science. Dr. Kesse adds that, “A lot of
businesses don’t yet have a data science mindset. And even the people who are giving money to run projects in companies are not yet bought.” The concept of data science taught in each county will be unique depending on the major economic activities of each county.
Is Africa the ‘gold mine’ of technology?
Professionals across the globe from all sorts of fields are trying to penetrate Africa. Africa took its time to blossom but now we are in full swing in the world of technology. People are joining their creative mindsets and inventing technologies that other parts of the world are yet to get their hands on. Investors are banking on us because Africa is a gold mine of technology that we need to realize and tap that potential. We need to know the value of data and what we have. This is the thing we need to bring back because the future of the world is Africa. People are looking for ways they can come back to Africa and set themselves up. The locals need to have that data science knowledge so that they may be able to reap from their inventions before someone else comes and exploits their chance. Mu Data Analytics Institute seeks to address this issue since being a group from the Diaspora; they have the knowledge and resources to train our people.
In Data Science you do not need a lot of capital investment because it’s a new kind of industrialization. It’s more democratic and easier for people with less capital because you only need a computer and your brain to develop alogarithm. “You don’t big expensive machines to develop data really, with the basics you are good to go,” notes Dr. Lavri Labi. We have infrastructure on the ground considering we have the East Africa Data Centre based in Nairobi serving East and Central Africa.
Knowing that data is important, how to collect the relevant one and how to structure it will be useful part of this training by Mu Data Analytics Institute in partnership with MKU. Their first workshop will begin in Nairobi and Nyeri counties in July, then in September they will be in Nakuru and Uasin Gishu counties the lastly Mombasa county. This is a pilot project, a spring board to other African countries. Experts with years of experience in different fields who can build alogarithm will train people in these workshops. The project is also being funded by the German government through the Centre for Migration. It is a high profile project that has gone through thorough examination and people need to come out to theses workshops and learn a thing or two about Data Science.