Dr. Awiti of the Aga Khan University & East African Institute: Leverage Big Data for Our Prosperity

Africa’s big data opportunity has been enabled by the proliferation of media usage, especially cellphones and the explosion of internet-connected devices and systems. We have also witnessed, thanks to broadband internet, an unprecedented eruption of unstructured data in the form through photos, videos and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Government agencies hold or have access to an ever-increasing wealth of data including spatial and location data. Moreover, private sector, especially mobile phone service providers like Safaricom and Airtel also hold huge amounts of data about its customers.

autonomy-big-data-solutions-eventThe power of big data and data analytics and its application in decision-making really lies in the capacity to predict, model and detect phenomena. Hence, incorporation of big data and data analytics in intelligent systems could vastly improve delivery of public services in domains ranging from education, wildlife conservation, public health, road safety, agriculture, climate change adaptation, counter-terrorism, tax collection, and utilisation of public revenue.

Alex Awiti, Director - East African Institute & Assistant Professor - Aga Khan University
Alex Awiti, Director – East African Institute & Assistant Professor – Aga Khan University

In my view, the potential of big data to drive Africa’s prosperity will only be realised if we answer the following questions.

First, how can novel technologies and the everyday innovations in how the world is documented and monitored be applied to bridge critical gaps in data?

Second, how can the under-resourced national statistics departments in the majority of African countries be supported to collect, manage, analyse and share data?

Published on 1 September 2015.
By Alex Awiti, Director of the East African Institute and Assistant Professor at Aga Khan University.

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