Data Science Nigeria (DSN) is leading a revolution to upskill, re-skill and retool young Nigerians in Artificial Intelligence (AI) skills to enable them to become more productive to the country and the world at large.
DSN, a non-governmental organisation that is given to democratising knowledge in AI and related fields for socio-economic development in Nigeria, conveyed AI Summit in Lagos where it reiterated the vision to raise one million (1,000,000) high-qualified, world-class AI talents in the next 10 years.
The Body believes that building a local data science/big data/AI ecosystem will position Nigeria to become the outsourcing hub for international Data Science/Advanced Analytics/Big Data projects with an opportunity to access 10 percent share of the global data science outsourcing projects, worth USD 3.3 billion in revenue by 2020.
In a keynote presentation titled, ‘Artificial Intelligence for Development’, Distinguished Professor (Emeritus) and Director of Intelligent Systems Research at Oregon State University, Prof. Thomas Dietterich, described AI as a catalyst for economic advancement.
He said that AI presents opportunities for economic transformation in unique.
According to him, although the developing economies still lag behind in some areas with regards AI adoption and applications, however, organisations like Data Science Nigeria, have shown a clear roadmap capable of putting the country on the right footings and build the national competitiveness given the right skills set.
He emphasised that developing AI-enabled weather management solutions, for instance, will assist the continent address some challenges faced by farmers thereby leading to improved food production/sufficiency.
Prof. Dietterich, said that with the growing community of AI enthusiasts and learners, Nigeria and indeed Africa will witness a major boost in skills needed for research and development focused on bringing applied Artificial Intelligence solutions to existing community problems.
He, however, emphasised that to make progress in this direction requires making sense out of the big data and applying the results to track diseases and make the nation safer, better, and well-structured for collective well-being
Prof. Dietterich, who is one of the founders of the field of Machine learning, applauded Data Science Nigeria for taking the lead to connect experts with AI developers/enthusiasts to develop solutions that can transform the society.
While applauding the First AI Book for Primary and Junior Secondary School students in Nigeria, the keynote speaker further urged experts and stakeholders to rave-up DSN’s mission to deliver a positive impact to the society using Artificial Intelligence.
On his part, the Convener, Data Science Nigeria, Dr. Olubayo Adekanmbi, said that he desires that by 2025 every Nigerian child under-10-year old understands the concept of AI, it’s applications and builds the right skills set so that Nigeria becomes the talent pool for the rest of the world.
The Convener, DSN, said that as a nation of 200 million people, with median age at 18 years, it is important to prepare the young people for the future by exposing them to the right skillset; especially when we know that most of the jobs we know today will go into extinction in the next 5-10 years.
“So, the question is: what becomes of our country with so many young people who are lacking in the right skills for the ‘future jobs’. That informed the whole idea of Data Science Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Skill Building. It has become a mandate. We have taken up the responsibility to say: it is not going to be the son of a rich man or an average man; wherever they are in this country, have access to the same knowledge that students in San Francisco, Paris and London have access to., by creating a book that will be distributed free. We are not going through the traditional model ‘I buy for my child’ rather ‘you buy for a community or the whole school’. The approach is: make knowledge in a simplified manner.
The second thing is to build a system that will allow that knowledge to be passed. That is why we are working with various State Governments. We are going to run a lot of ‘train-the-trainer- program where we will equip the teachers to also know because you can only give what you have. We are going to train the teachers in AI. Afterward, we are going to give them a few copies of the Book. It is going to be on batches till we reach every part of the country.
Dr. Adekanmbi also pointed out how government can be part of the process to raise one million inspired young people to change the country’s narrative and make Nigeria the AI destination in future, he called for integrating AI as part of the national curriculum.
This, he said, would generate more attention by the students towards learning the discipline. “In addition to that, the government can also support the effective production of this book which we are giving out free. DSN is a non-profit, everything we are trying to do is to democratise AI; from Lagos to Maiduguri to Uyo, to Sokoto, let every Nigerian child be exposed to the possibilities of AI. Let them build the right skills and let’s get our nation ready for the opportunities that AI presents; shaping opportunity creation, innovation, invention research, and transformational possibilities.
The Summit also exposed participants to DSN’s practitioner-led model where experienced and hands-on data scientists in Nigeria and in the Diaspora train and mentor young Nigerians through face-to-face, virtual coaching classes, project-based support and holiday boot camps funded by individuals and corporate organizations such as Softcom, Terragon Group, Microsoft, MainOne, TechCabal, BlueChip Technologies, amongst others.