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Big Data Opportunities Nigeria Needs to Take Advantage of.

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Big data is the large volume of structured and unstructured data with the potential to be mined for information. With the enormous data available in the Nigeria, it is only important for her to utilize the data produced. The country has fallen short in the area of data management as compared to countries like US with a national open data initiative for enthusiasts, researchers and professionals.

The lack of big data management is clearly evident in the country’s education system. The government has not utilized the data to provide useful solutions. “there exists low awareness on the advantages of assessment big data from the part of policy makers in Nigeria. The amassed assessment big data mainly ends up in students’ placement and certification” according to a research paper published by Nkechi Patricia-Mary Esomonu in the International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education (IJERE).

Besides awareness and management of data available in the country, it still has a low percentage of data science professionals. The private sector has been working to increase the number of people with knowledge of data science and artificial intelligence. Data Science Nigeria, Utiva, Pairview consulting all have training programs, free or paid, in different areas including MLOps and analytics.

Big tech companies are already taking advantage of this already. ADC plans to build 10MW data center in Lagos and Microsoft is building a network of data centers in Africa. It has earmarked six local areas for the development of high-speed internet infrastructure. Microsoft’s Airband team will work closely with local partners to improve broadband connectivity Africa. While also assisting with the design and implementation of hyperscale cloud services.

In Lagos, Nigeria, machine learning has helped Google data operations team add 20,000 street names, 50,000 addresses, and 100,000 new businesses (lighting up the map with local places and businesses where there once was little detailed information).

The country’s private sector is already waking up to the reality of managing Nigeria’s enormous data. They are also utilizing it to solve different challenges. The Nigerian National Technical Working Group was inaugurated on 8 May, 2019 to explore the applicability of data solutions to overcome the country’s societal challenges. Companies like Keoun Technologies are promoting the use of mobile positioning data for using in national planning.

The use of Poverty Maps for resource planning and social programs is also a big advantage of well managed raw information. Poverty maps have been improved, using machine learning, to locate areas of high poverty rates (including those in relatively wealthy regions). According to a World Bank report, These techniques work by “learning” how to predict poverty by being exposed to a large dataset that matches ground-truth labels of poverty (from geo-located household surveys) to imagery and other geospatial data. They can be employed in government projects National Social Safety Net Project (NASSP) for resource distribution during an epidemic and in other situations.

Opportunities abound in fintech, banking and e-commerce for use of consumer information. Banks are using consumer information to monitor consumers financial standing. Online shops like Jumia and Konga employ consumer info in the algorithm for building their recommendation engines.

Bits of information in form of genome can also be harnessed to provide solutions for the Africa’s health burden. A problem the biotech startup 54gene aims to tackle. This important since a low percentage of the genomes mapped for the Human Genome Project is from Africa (the cradle of humanity). AI based solution can be used in healthcare for medical imaging and improving drug discovery.

Zenvus, an agritech company, is using AI for precision farming intelligence solution. Bits of information generated from sensors used on Nigerian farms help farmers provide useful information for investors.


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