Data Science Africa (DSA), a network of data science professionals and enthusiasts focused on developing contextual data science solutions for African challenges, last Friday launched the Uganda Chapter, at Nakawa National ICT hub in Kampala.
During the launch, Dr William Wasswa, a biomedical engineer, said it is high time African countries realized that they can rely on emerging technologies to help solve a number of challenges facing their people. He said science, technology and innovation have the potential to help Africa create employment opportunities for the youth and solve many other challenges.
He added that these technologies should be looked at as opportunities to solve local challenges that face our people. Wasswa cited emerging technologies like 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence, 5G, saying they do have a lot of potential in solving a number of challenges that countries face, but noted that many African countries including Uganda, have not fully harnessed them.
“For example, Artificial Intelligence has proved to have a lot of impact as a transformation force to reduce poverty and increase access to public services like education and health but the deployment of these technologies requires a lot of support from various stakeholders including government and the private sector,” he added.
Dr Wasswa explained that African countries have continued to lag behind because the implementation of these new technologies has faced a number of challenges, including a lack of experts and limited ICT infrastructure but pointed out that with the launch of the Data Science Africa Uganda chapter, some of these challenges can be tackled.
Joyce Nakatumba Nabende, a lecturer at Makerere University’s department of computer science, said the launch of the Ugandan chapter for Data Science Africa would greatly help in making sure many Ugandans know about the concept of data science. She said whereas many Ugandan Institutions are already harnessing data using Artificial Intelligence (AI) or simple analytics for decision making, many others are not yet aware of the potential and benefits of leveraging data and using Artificial Intelligence or Data Science.
“There has been growth in interest for data science and Artificial Intelligence in Uganda. By launching the Uganda chapter, we want everyone to make sense of Data Science because data is everywhere”, she said. She gave an example of making phone calls, where there is data, in hospitals and everything people do is data. She said the only challenge is that many people don’t know how to make sense of this data.
“This launch is meant to increase interest, awareness and ownership in data science among stakeholders and also communicate the agenda of the local chapter so that people can be aware of what is available on offer and stimulate discussion on the partnership,” she added.
Martin Gordon Mubangizi, the General Chairperson for Data Science Africa Uganda Chapter, said the network of data science professionals and enthusiasts is meant to showcase what is happening in the Artificial Intelligence, data, data science and innovation space in Uganda but also, bring together partners working in data science space within the country.
“We aim at building the capacity of Africans into the skills of data science. We want to look at how data is collected, analyzed, building models in Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and deep learning. We want to build the capacity of Ugandans to create value out of data to make decisions, “he stressed.