Africa’s economies will have much of their growth pegged on developments in technology in the coming months, says Aneshan Ramaloo, Senior Business Solutions Manager at SAS, a leading analytics company based in South Africa.
Ramaloo states that 2018 will once again see technology deliver incredible results.
Providing a closer look at current trends and how they are shaping developments in Africa, he argues that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a significant role in Africa’s future.
“One of the major forces driving the world of tech and AI is the increasing volume and availability of data,” he explained in a statement issued on April 17th, 2018.
“Take financial inclusion as an example. Traditionally, banks would rely on certain data and documentation – like credit scores, ID documents and lending history – to analyse risk and grant credit to a customer,” said Ramaloo.
“But this approach excluded a large portion of the population, who haven’t had the opportunity to build up a credit history for whatever reason – no documentation, no credit history. Now FinTech providers in East Africa are analysing mobile data – for example, how often a person tops up their airtime – as a basis for granting micro-loans and making lending decisions,” he elaborated.
He noted that this will empower those who have traditionally been excluded from the financial services market because they now have the means to access funding and start their own businesses, buy property or send their children to school.
“At the same time, we’ve developed technology that allows us to analyse more data than ever before,” he said.
His sentiments come at a time when the world has seen a massive improvement in computer power, ensuring that analytical solutions can now examine these massive volumes of data at faster speeds. Data scientists can develop machine learning models in minutes, which can enable businesses to deliver results quickly.
A great example of the technology that allows this is SAS VIYA, which is an end-to-end analytical platform. The platform fuels the analytics lifecycle from data preparation to model development and, finally, deployment. This is all done from within a single interface.
Ramaloo said the advent of such technology will lead to advancements such as more accurate predictions. He said the tech will allow researchers to tap into unstructured data
“While we’ve been drawing on structured data sources like transactional data for some time, no-one has really been tapping into unstructured data sources. For example, customer complaints, reviews and other text data sources,” he explained.
He added that these two sources, when combined, can be extremely powerful.
“Say, for instance, you wanted to develop a customer churn prediction model. By including data sources like customer complaints, as opposed to just structured and traditional data sources, you can develop a model that is more accurate at predicting churn,” he said.
Ramaloo is confident that adopting such high technology will shape how service providers do business in Africa.
“On the threshold of a future in which machines can think and learn – as we step into 2018 one could literally say nothing is impossible,” he concluded.