The importance of data science in decision making and in seeking lasting solutions to development problems in Africa in general and in Cameroon in particular is under scrutiny at the Yaounde Higher Teachers’ Training College (ENS).
Forty varsity students and professionals from around Africa specialised in Statistics, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have, since Monday, 24 February, been taking part in the Big Data for Development Short Course Program (BD4D-SCP). For five days, Dr. Dustan Matekenya, Data Scientist at the World Bank schooled participants on the basics of processing large scale datasets and on building machine learning models using “Python”. Organised by the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences- Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS – NEI), the capacity building topics included “Advanced Concepts in Python”, “Python for Data Science”, “Big Data Processing”, and “Machine Learning (ML) in Python”.
During the event’s opening ceremony, Pr. Roger Atsa Etoudi, Director of Information Systems in the Ministry of Higher Education, called on the trainees to take advantage of the workshop to address development problems based on data or ICTs. Among the problems data collection and analyses for decision making can resolve is that of road accidents. “The Bafoussam-Douala-Yaounde road is one of the deadly roads in Africa. Accidents on this road are blamed on over speeding, poor state of vehicles, and the condition of drivers. Security officers can’t control all these, but technology can do so efficiently. Technology, for example, can detect that a car’s tyres are worn-out, and that a driver has covered over 1000Km, thus he is tired,” Prof. Mama Foupouagnigni, AIMS-Cameroon Center President said. Dr. Charles Kimpolo, Director of AIMS Industry Initiative Rwanda, on his part, highlighted the importance of data science to a country’s population census.
At the end of the Big Data for Development Short Course Program on Friday, 28 February, participants will receive certificates. “This is our contribution to the employability of graduates,” Prof. Foupouagnigni stated.
The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences – Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS – NEI) is a Pan-African network of centres of excellence that offers postgraduate training, research and outreach in mathematical sciences.