Using data for scientific independence in Africa


14 November 2014

The Planet Earth Institute (PEI) has called for innovators to pitch ideas for data-driven projects that harness data to achieve real, practical, human impact in Africa, for entry in the first Africa Data Challenge.


The challenge is part of the institute’s #ScienceAfrica UnConference, to be held at Impact HUB in Westminster, London on November 18. PEI is an international NGO that works for the scientific independence of Africa. The Africa Data Challenge is a groundbreaking competition.


While the “data revolution” is a major theme in conversations on technology and business, there’s little discussion on how it can enhance Africa’s scientific development in a practical way. The Africa Data Challenge invites innovators from around the world to pitch their ideas for projects that can help translate and transmit the power of data to those on the continent.


Projects are unlimited in scope and focus, but must be designed to have a practical, human application in the next 12 months. Contestants will present their project live in front of a panel that includes Beejaye Kokil, head of the economic and social statistics division at African Development Bank; David Tempest, head of director of access relations at Elsevier; Richard Pilling, director of professional services and analytics at Intel; and Marieme Jamme, entrepreneur and chief executive of SpotOne Global.


The successful innovators will receive a cash prize of £7 000 (R124 000) and PEI’s support in rolling out their project.


PEI’s second #ScienceAfrica UnConference is hosted by Lord Boateng and runs in partnership with the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the World Bank and the European Commission. It brings together over 120 people who are passionate about and working in science, development and Africa for an interactive day of workshops and discussions.


Participants come from diverse sectors, including international policy makers, academics, students as well as the general public. The UnConference will also be live streamed on the PEI website and people are encouraged to use the #ScienceAfrica hashtag on Twitter to engage in a robust discussion about science, technology and innovation in Africa.


Dr Álvaro Sobrinho, chairman of PEI, said: “Data holds a huge amount of promise for scientific development in Africa, and for many different business sectors too, but we haven’t yet fully explored how it can be used at a local level to improve lives. As an NGO we are always looking for practical ways to support science and technology, and this Africa Data Challenge will help do just that – developing and incubating new ideas with real impact.


“I’m looking forward to supporting the winning project over the next year, and to rolling out the competition across Africa. Working with our partners around the world, we are deeply committed to supporting innovations in this way, and strengthening the growing movement for scientific investment and development in Africa.”


PEI is an international NGO and charity working for the scientific independence of Africa. While other emerging regions have invested heavily in science and technology, Africa is falling behind in the race for scientific development. All of the group’s work is built around three pathways it believes will help to lead Africa to scientific independence: higher education, technological innovation, and policy and advocacy. “In other words, we want to support and strengthen higher education institutions, help incubate and seed-fund technologies able to drive scientific advancement and campaign for a science-led development agenda for Africa,” the organisation says.


The institute is headquartered in London and has regional project offices in Luanda, Angola and Kigali, Rwanda.


Source: APO