Adekanmbi tasks professionals on AI, data for social impact

By Felicia Nwosu

Bayo Adekanmbi, Chief Strategy, Partnership and Sustainability Officer, Airtel Africa, has tasked African data-centric professionals within the ecosystem to come up with a distinct and high-impact contribution rooted in intellectual credibility, accountability, and purpose while leveraging AI for social impact. He maintained that each person must build a solid career path with evidence-based global validation, characterized by remarkable milestones and not social media hype.

Adekanmbi stated this during his keynote presentation at the inaugural edition of 2022 DataFestAfrica, a gathering of data professionals, creators, educators, users, managers, and low-code developers in Africa held in Lagos. The experienced data-centric professional opened the conversation by sharing his concept of Data/AI ecosystem building, and the four fundamental pillars that drive ecosystem success, using case studies from Africa and the work done by Data Scientists Network (Data Science Nigeria).

The Founder & Lead Consultant, Data Science Nigeria, explained that data is now a factor of production and its value is as much important as other factors of production in value creation and welfare within the continent. This, he noted, is because data is positioned to address lots of infrastructural gaps and help explore home-grown approaches to scale capacity involvement, raise higher earnings of talents which translate into better living for people, boost sustainability and also grow GDP.

The keynote speaker noted that the ecosystem is all about the ability to amplify the power of collective networks, build multiple competencies into shared value in a quantum that delivers an avant-garde, inclusive benefit. He explained the emerging African AI/data ecosystem & how it has evolved from the Africa Union’s AI strategy to the various community efforts across the continent.

“Specific mention was made of Africa’s largest hackathon in Tunisia, with over 2,000 hands-on experts solving real problems. The impact of the Mashakane project in digitizing African languages is another proof of our evolution. The broader work of BlackinAI, Deep Learning Indaba, Zindi, Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa, Data Science Africa, Data Science North Africa & Arabia, AI Expo Africa and others were referenced on how an ecosystem can become stronger through connected meaning and value amplification,” he said.

According to him, building an ecosystem begins with individuals and by sharing some of the ecosystem trends within the continent as well as using Artificial Intelligence to understand behaviour in various aspects of human endeavour to solve social problems. He urged data analysts and professionals to optimize and utilize data maximally in providing solutions.

The Airtel strategist also suggested building an ecosystem using the Data Science Nigeria (DSN’s) four frameworks as critical drivers or enablers that can impact through Knowledge democratization, enhancement, application and institutionalization.

He pointed out that career building is not hype, but intentional and strategic, a marathon and not a sprint with a clear focus on the process of achieving visions and goals powered by a deep sense of purpose and life’s calling. He alluded that great events do not make great people; only great decisions do.

“As you go higher in your career, you must remain hands-on, you must not lose touch with the opportunity to work within data. Data must also be able to take us to the level of nation-building where we see data as a catalyst for solving social problems. Africa’s ecosystem will only be recognized globally if we increase our contribution to knowledge through solid research outcomes and products. I encourage us to stretch for the sky in research-based practice,” Adekanmbi stated.


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