By Byron Mutingwende
All roads lead to the inaugural Data Science Zimbabwe Conference to be held in Harare on the 13th and 17th of December 2018.
The conference seeks to showcase the value of data science skills and data science opportunities through industry case studies presented by local and international speakers.
According to Statista.com, “In 2018, the big data software market is estimated to be worth USD$14 billion, while the market overall will be worth USD$42 billion.” This clearly explains that data science is the future of development.
“Zimbabwe is well positioned to produce Africa’s next data related businesses, data science success stories and data scientists.
“Zimbabwean youth must explore data science and technology opportunities or risk getting left behind in the digital economy. There is an opportunity for Zimbabwean youth to be creators of technology, building apps and e-commerce businesses, rather than passive consumers of technology,” said Shingai Manjengwa, the Chief Executive Officer at Fireside Analytics Inc., a Toronto based ed-tech start-up that offers customised, cloud-hosted, data science training and consulting services to corporates, governments, and educational institutions.
Shingai is among the experts who will be presenting at the much-anticipated Data Science Conference.
In a statement about the conference, Shingai describes her work and defines Data Science as follows:
Fireside Analytics Inc.
Fireside Analytics Inc., is a Toronto based technology start-up that creates customised educational curricula and programs to teach digital literacy, coding, and data science to a wide variety of audiences, from policy makers to executives, managers, analysts, and non- profit teams.
In our consulting practice, we tackle classic business problems such as customer churn, segmentation, optimisation, pricing and many more. We use open source tools like R, Python, Scala and Hadoop to distill actionable insights from data analytics models and present them in words, pictures or charts, that are accessible to clients.
We empower teams and teach tools that are open source and free and our technical training e.g., learning to code, can be done online, meaning that learners can take their work wherever they go, no version control issues or software downloads.
Fireside Analytics is a proud course developer for IBM’s CognitiveClass.ai (formerly, Big Data University – bigdatauniversity.com). Cognitive Class is a free online learning platform created to provide access to the best, high quality, interactive, and hands on education in data science, analytics, and big data. We have over 300,000 registered learners from all over the world taking Fireside Analytics open courses on platforms like IBM’s CognitiveClass.ai and Coursera.
What is Data Science?
Data science is the process of analysing data sets to solve business problems. Data science techniques allow us to make reliable predictions of the future, to find patterns in past behaviour and to make data driven decisions to advance business objectives.
The conference will prepare managers, executives and learners to leverage opportunities from the data. Data Science can be summarised in a 5-step process:
- defining business objectives and questions to answer
- sourcing, selecting and cleaning data
- building models to find patterns and derive insights
- presenting a compelling story with visualisations
- informing business decisions and solving problems
Why Data Science?
Every day we are generating data from digital products and services at an unprecedented rate. There is an explosion in data coming from advances in cloud computing, social media, mobile communications and other technologies. We can derive value from this ‘big data’ by analysing it, and developing solutions to everyday problems in all areas of modern life e.g., healthcare, education, government services, financial services, science, etc.
The volume, variety and velocity of the data requires a uniquely skilled workforce that can process and analyze the data, as well as, uniquely skilled leaders to direct the activities.
Data Science for High School Learners
Fireside Analytics Academy is a private school in Ontario, Canada! that only offers one course: IDC4U – Data Science for High School. We have the authority to issue a high school credit in data science, granted to us by the Ministry of Education and this credit is recognised at colleges and universities all over the world.
This is the same credit learners in Canada receive and teachers in Canada teach the course. The program is completely online and we are excited to bring this opportunity to Zimbabwean learners. We also provide information assistance and career guidance to Zimbabwean students who are looking to enter into Canadian colleges and universities; this is in line with the Canadian Federal Government’s goal to double the number of international students coming to Canada by 2020.
Zimbabwe is well positioned to become a data science hub in Africa and perhaps the world due to growing infrastructure (e.g., high speed fibre internet) and, Zimbabwe’s education system boasts the highest literacy rates on the continent. Zimbabwe has a culture of education that lends itself well to self-learning and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), which allow Zimbabweans to learn data science skills remotely. These skills are in high demand and short-supply globally.
New cloud-based technologies like IBM’s Cognitive Labs and IBM’s CognitiveClass.ai mean that training and education of data scientists (including data science as a second career) is easier than ever. These cloud-based technologies mean that learners, anywhere in Zimbabwe, from Mt. Pleasant to Mt. Darwin can access programming languages and powerful analytics tools through an internet browser and begin to learn data science skills from anywhere. These cloud-based technologies facilitate the commercial delivery of data science tools right to our doorstep creating a significant opportunity for job creation and new companies in Zimbabwe.
Becoming a data science hub of the region is a bold vision but the work has already begun. ICT and STEM subjects have been a strategic focus for the Ministry of Education and the Government of Zimbabwe, ushering in the next wave of graduates in this high demand, high value field. We are excited about the future of data science and we will continue to deliver excellence and innovation in data science education, join us! Our curriculum is available at our school, Fireside Analytics Academy and in 2 other private schools in Canada: Blyth Academy and Virtual High School.
Based in Canada, Fireside Analytics has received local support on the ground from IQEAC Zimbabwe, the International Qualifications Evaluation and Authentication Consultancy. This institution assists in the provision of scholarships from worldwide universities, colleges and other educational institutions for various educational disciplines required by under graduates, post-graduates and PhD aspirants.
The mandate of IQEAC is to assist with evaluation and authentication of qualifications for both Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans, who want to work or study in Zimbabwe and elsewhere. The organisation offers support to employers, training and educational institutions by verifying qualifications of potential applicants. The formation of the Institution was driven by the desire to simplify educational and immigration processes, and by the recognition that most institutions offer places to applicants prior to or without verification of their certificates.