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Africa data forum taps into data science

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As demand across organisations grows for predictive analytics to help improve decision making, it is becoming increasingly apparent there is a shortage of these competencies today.
Africa Data Forum is hosting a three-day event from 22-24 February, aimed at providing a platform for businesses, public sector, data science practitioners and data science capability service providers to engage and to share experiences on how organisations can win with data.
According to a study by Forbes Insights and EY conducted in November 2015, 54% of executives heading large organisations report that analytics is key to their overall business strategy. It is against this backdrop that Africa Data Forum was established to drive the Africa Data Science Agenda, says Thula Ngonyama, non-executive board member of the Africa Data Science Association.
Bill Hoggarth, director of Dataways and master of ceremony, says the forum is important because of the rising demand across businesses, NGOs and governments in Africa for qualified skills and best-practice advice.
The Forum will promote common interests in data science, provide a platform for the data fraternity to engage and share experiences and learn from each other, notes Ngonyama. She points out there is a global shortage of data science talent against a high demand for these professionals. Deloitte’s Analytics Trends 2016 report notes while there is a rising number of university analytics and data science programmes, they however can’t produce sufficiently trained people to meet the demand.
For African people in the workforce today or planning their studies, this represents a massive opportunity for both individuals and teams of data specialists, says Africa Data Forum CEO Shepherd Mzinyathi adding African enterprises need to be in the forefront of building data science skills.
“African enterprises need to be part of those leading the pack of the 4th industrial revolution, and that is the mission of Africa Data Forum, through data science to propel Africa to the next level.”
Ngonyama says Africa Data Academy, which is part of Africa Data Forum provides organisations with an opportunity to build their team’s data science skills and to get them certified and recognised globally.
“There is no doubt that information is one of the key drivers of the 4th industrial revolution and African enterprises need to be part of those leading the pack. This is the mission of Africa Data Forum, through data science, to propel Africa to the next level.” As part of this drive, Africa Data Forum will unveil the Data Science Excellence awards at the inaugural forum.
“What excites me most about the work that Africa Data Forum is doing, is the Data Science Excellence Awards. Africa Data Science is pioneering the Data Science Excellence awards; a way to recognise excellence in the field.”
With the right information, African enterprises and organisations will take their rightful place in the global economy, says Mzinyathi. For example, M-pesa, a mobile money service launched in Kenya during 2007 shows the transformative power of innovation on the African continent, he adds. Tanzania is also following fast and we can expect much of Sub-Saharan Africa to broadly adopt mobile money, says Mzinyathi. “The continent will lead innovation in this sector- especially when you start to think about the services that can be built on top of this data stream.”
The next three conferences will be held in Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria later on in 2017.