New data management deal to make Africa ‘understandable’


Mobile technology rapidly is revolutionizing Africa

A leading nonprofit research institute, Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) have partnered in collection of data that will help transform development approaches in Africa to enable the rest of the world to have clear information about the continent.

The deal, that will deploy big data analytics and cognitive technologies, was sealed in Kenya’s Capital Nairobi, Wednesday.

The deal’s first pilot project is to develop and test artificial intelligence systems to capture data about schools in Mombasa County, Kenya.

“A dearth of data on Africa in the past has led to misunderstandings or misrepresentations of the continent’s history, economic performance and potential. Over the past few decades, even simple facts have been misrepresented – the size of a country, its economic performance, the amount of poor people, the volume of exploitable resources,” Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya, Vice President, IBM Research – Africa.

The partnership comes as a rapid rise in mobile and Internet technologies are producing unprecedented amounts of data.

In developing countries, mobile phones, digital devices and low-cost sensors connect previously disconnected communities with the potential to produce new insight about how people live and the challenges they face.

Bhattacharya said that the latest advances in mobile, big data and Internet of Things technologies have the potential to change that picture to have an accurate and dynamic understanding of Africa’s challenges, rising opportunities and incredible potential.

The results from the collected data will be used as insight into the progress and actionable evidence to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals- ambitious universal targets that will be confirmed by a United Nations Summit in September 2015.

These include ending poverty and hunger, ensuring healthy lives and ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education.

This partnership will help lay the paving stones for the ‘data revolution for development’ to lead the way in achieving the sustainable development goals,” said Dr. Luis Crouch, the vice president and chief technical officer in RTI’s International Development Group.

IBM Research – Africa is IBM’s 12th global research lab and the first industrial research facility on the continent of Africa, with facilities in Kenya and South Africa.