Big data and Africa, the rising dawn

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>>>This article is authored by Npontu Technologies Ltd., www.npontu.com

The efficient mining of data (Big Data), they say, is the new gold; and while other continents of the world are racing to catch hold of and use big data for more innovative work, intellectual minds often wonder what Africa is doing about this open door.

Science, innovation and industry have seen many countries move from obscurity to prominence. Africa will benefit from this revolution provided we have strong minds to lead the way.

Big data is being used in so many different fields. In the US, the telecom industry and financial services providers have been adopters of Big Data and machine learning, using same to predict future trends, customer churn, fraud detection and the like. In India the government’s think-tank has initiated a pilot project called Precision Agriculture, using big data and AI to improve agriculture – a mainstay of the Indian economy.

In Africa, our very sustenance as a continent depends on our innovative use of the data available to us. Let’s consider the area of health, wherein we are impoverished. In a BBC-published article – Ebola: Can big data analytics help contain its spread? –  the reporter explains how ports, trains and flight data gleaned by a big data analytics company helped develop an Ebola-tracking app, which helped track potentially infected people and helped identify who they may have come into contact with.

This without doubt was useful in tracking the movement of potentially infected people, which helped curtail cross-border spread of the disease. The deadliness of Ebola and the responses we saw to it explains to us how our lives have become dependent on one thing – data.

However, as has been expressed by many scientists, big data – though a crucial component to any analysis – is only second to a skilled and intuitive data scientist, who must be able to effectively derive and communicate relevant and accurate insights gained from the data; taking into consideration the unique factors of the environment to which the data is related.

For Africa to glean any benefits from this big data revolution, it goes without saying that we need to groom our own. We need to develop our own skilled specialists who will better understand data relevant to us as a continent, and aggressively move us to another level.

Perhaps this desire and dream is not so far-fetched, as we see the rise of new geniuses on our continent. One of these is Stephane Nwolley Jnr., CEO of Npontu Technologies – who has not only recognised the revolution but taken the pains and risen to the challenge of conducting his PhD research in big data, becoming one of the few in Africa to cross this threshold.

In addition to this, the flagship product of his company – a machine learning tool called Snwolley – can be used for sentiment analysis, to predict customer churn, fraud detection and so much more. It is a transformational tool for today’s business.

This product testifies to the strides that can be taken should we choose to take the opportunities available to us. Stephane Nwolley Jnr. is an indicator that there are many more among us that think of the future of Africa is in the game of Big Data. Indeed, it is a new dawn for many more like him in Africa.

 

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