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‘Government, private sector collaboration crucial to data growth’

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Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, Terragon Group, Ayodeji Balogun, has urged government to partner with the private sector to develop 21st century curriculum that would prepare Nigerian students to fit into the emerging fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Science, among others. He stated this at the 2019 Data Science Nigeria (DSN) Summit & Bootcamp last week in Lagos.

According to him, “We think that in terms of curriculum in the educational system in our schools, government can work together with private sector to influence the curriculum and infuse more advanced topics around data science, machine learning so that students could get access and hands-on experience at a very early stage before they get out of school and get trained by their employers.”

He also called on government to provide adequate infrastructure that would enable players in the ecosystem perform their duties optimally.He said, “The biggest problems we have in Nigeria are access to data and infrastructure. In other countries, government provides access to some sample data sets that engineers can work with to train their models; you don’t have to think about looking for data sets. Here in Nigeria, there’s nothing like that. So, we think that government can support a lot in that area. In a continent of about 1.2 billion people, across a landscape that may be larger than many other continents put together, it is often quite difficult to identify and reach people in Africa.”

He pointed out that his company’s goal is to use data and technology to simplify the process of connecting brands to the African consumer through intelligent connections at scale on the mobile device.

According to him, “This is why partnering with Data Science Nigeria AI Summit and Bootcamp was very natural for us, as it aligns with our key objectives and goals. It has been very rewarding for us, because we have been able to contribute to the growth of the ecosystem as well as the emerging talents that will lead us into the future.”

Balogun commended the conveners of DSN for the giant strides they have made in the sector, especially in the area of democratizing of AI knowledge through their various programmes in tertiary institutions.

“As far as AI is concerned in Nigeria, it is still day one. We have not even scratched the surface at all. It is a long road and I’m happy about platforms like DSN because we are laying the foundation, but there is a lot that can be done. Which is why we have collaborated with Data Science Nigeria to train young talents in the different masterclasses we delivered to hundreds of data science young talents. We are also sending two outstanding students to Tunisia to learn more about Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.

“We have a lot of simple problems in our society that AI and machine learning can help us solve and I’m looking forward to young people building solutions in our space around data analytics and marketing technology to help startups achieve product market fit faster and help enterprises and businesses explore new growth areas. I’m confident that AI can help Nigeria leapfrog to the rest of the world in several other areas around education, healthcare, security, logistics and even governance.”


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