The five-day bootcamp started with an opening ceremony followed by panel sessions with speakers drawn from the government, financial institution, experts in the data science industry, media and large number of young and enthusiastic potential data scientists; all are interested in investing in the technology of the future and AI promises to be the best technology to invest in tackling certain challenges in Nigeria, especially ‘Financial inclusion’.
Mr. Adekanmbi’s addressed seven key areas as: Addressing journalists at the “Artificial Intelligence for Financial Inclusion Summit”, the Convener, Data Science Nigeria (DSN), Mr. Olubayo Adekanmbi, said that it was based on DSN’s convictions that technology is the answers to many challenges faced by the country hence the experts that have been engaged from Microsoft to teach 150 participants selected from 95 universities across Nigeria on the new global thinking of problem-solving.
The idea behind DSN bootcamp
“The Artificial Intelligence (AI) bootcamp was based on the need to complement the ‘traditional’ learning that Nigerian students are exposed to in schools. We understand there are global topics and knowledge that are not yet available based on the current syllabus.
To tackle this, we worked with experts to create a tailor-made syllabus that can allow must of these people (students) to learn and be at the same level as their colleagues anywhere in the world which they had to study for 90 days.
How 150 hands-on learners were selected
“So, within the days of the quiz competition, about 10,000 students from 95 schools in Nigeria participated. From there, we did another competition which was a means to understand how they apply the knowledge. From that we selected the best 150 who we are going to keep at the bootcamp for five days.
“Many of them were given travel grants to ensure they made it to the bootcamp; no discrimination irrespective of you background. If you are good you will be tutored and exposed to best experts.
It is a golden opportunity to learn from 10 renowned (global) data scientists
“Like I mentioned, we have 10 leading (global) data scientists that flew in from USA, South Africa, UK, etc., to teach in the next five days so that we will be able to raise quality students in Nigeria who can use machine learning and artificial intelligence to solve Nigerian problems. They create solutions that can transform to businesses and create jobs.
What informed DSN’s choice of theme for this year which dwells largely on Financial Inclusion?
“Like I mentioned, artificial intelligence to us is not an ending itself. What is science if it not applied? We are teaching people to use artificial intelligence, but it must be applied. Thus, we asked ourselves how can we use this mathematical capability to integrate man and machine together? How can we use it to solve a fundamental problem that is critical to our existence? Poverty is a serious problem. There are people that cannot have access to fund for a business of N500,000 or less.
“So, how do we create a new algorithm that can allow banks to these people? As you have seen, all the panellists are from the government, data analysts, banks; so that we can use data to accelerate access to finance. Through that, there will be financial inclusion.
If 150 are selected from 10,000 that applied, what happens to the rest?
“At the end of the day, no body was excluded. It is just that the rest didn’t travel to Lagos. The learning will always be with them. Interestingly, some of the people who did not make it to camp last year have progressed in their lives, because they were exposed to our curriculum.
AI Clubs in universities
“For those who did not make it, we are kicking off what we call AI Clubs in universities and some communities which will allow people who have made to Lagos to go back home and still be teaching there so they can sustain the momentum of using AI to solve our problems either in government, health, agriculture, city planning, and all that.
“Secondly, on the 150 that were selected, and like you heard today, many companies are granting them internship. Like we saw last year, many of them get jobs immediately. In other words, jobs are waiting for them even before they finish school.
“Last year KPMG took 10 of them. This year we have seven companies that are ready to take up the people. That is our joy. Then, those that want to go into research or creating solutions that can become startup, we provide supports for them. That was why we created AI Hub in the University of Lagos (Unilag) where these students can have access to modern tools and conduct research. So, it is prosperity for the common man and for the betterment of our country.
“Apart from the students, there are professionals who passed through the processes. They also came to Lagos. It is just that it is easier for students to go through the 90-days rigours imply four to five hours of reading every day. The expert that qualified them is somebody that his assignment seems as what people in top PhD will do.
Microsoft as ‘the big brother’ to DSN
“Microsoft is the lead sponsor of this event which is based on Microsoft’s commitment to capacity building. They see need for the application of AI to solve some local challenges. As you are aware, Microsoft has developed a lot of tools.
“They are also supporting the bootcamp; their experts have flew-in to Nigeria to support the opportunity to engage young Nigerians in tools, applications and methodologies for research and used cases.
“So, Microsoft has given us all the support to make this a reality.
“Microsoft has got Azure software that allows end to end capacity to build on Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, etc., because they developed a custom-made tool either for cognitive, language, facial recognition, which anybody can plug on it and apply.