Africa: Big Data’s biggest gap

September 07, 2017

According to RubiBlue, big data and analytics presents many questions and possibilities to the African continent, so why is there still such little reliable and up-to-date data available?

Big data and analytics presents many questions and possibilities to the African continent, so why is there still such little reliable and up-to-date data available?

Chris Ogden, who heads up innovation house RubiBlue and creator of DataSight, believes it’s the collection of data in important African countries and markets that is lacking. But Africa’s economic woes have inspired the organisation to harness certain technologies with more zeal and in more innovative ways.

Historically funding for data collection is often unstable and inadequate in the public sector and data accuracy is rarely checked. “If more African nations had access to reliable data, there’d be a deeper insight into the continent’s challenges and needs, and a better understanding of how to provide solutions,” explains Ogden.

Data collection is happening in Africa, but there is a focus on more, not better data. Just over 80% of African countries conducted a census between 2005 and 2014, but there is a lack of reliable data on the primary indicators of development, such as maternal mortality, education and employment, with many reports suggesting politicians skew this data before publishing.

Data Sight believes the approach to data should allow progress through the collection of quality data free from a donor or political influence and to give corporates access to unbiased data from all pockets of the continent. “Technology allows us to access people in the most rural of locations, and incentivise them to participate in data gathering activities,” adds Ogden. “Most organisations use tech to process data already, but few use it to reach people in our continents’ furthest corners.”

Private corporations, charities, Government and philanthropic donors can all benefit from independent data collection: professional data collectors, reliable collection techniques and technology, and deeper insight for easier decision making. Africa is facing a much-needed data revolution, and can use valuable, accurate data to address challenges and fuel development.