IBM Research-Africa

Moringa School, IBM Research Train African Data Scientists

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New Data Science Course for Kenyan Students

Over the last decade, Kenya has emerged as one of Africa’s technical and financial leaders, experiencing economic growth and spurring innovation in fields such as mobile money, pay as you go solar energy and agriculture. However, for hot fields such as AI, cloud and analytics, the skills of a data scientist are not typically met locally, with many examples of the jobs being outsourced. This issue is compounded by the fact that banks, telcos and NGOs operating in Kenya have accumulated a wealth of data that has remained largely underused.

Hoping to reverse this trend, a $33,000 grant provided by the KDD Conference under its Impact Program, was put to use by the Moringa School and IBM Research – Africa. The two organizations launched a six week, two class per week, data science course for Kenyan students from varied educational, technical and economic backgrounds to expand their employability as data analysts and data scientists.

data science

Building off foundational courses already offered at Moringa, the class was attended by 33 students and was taught by four IBM researchers, including myself.  We introduced the students to the fundamental concepts of data science, open source tools and online platforms for furthering their interest and skills in data science. IBM also provided the students with access to the IBM Skills Academy where they can complete online certifications and receive certification badges.

After the course ended, student feedback indicated a Net Promoter Score of 8.9, meaning nearly all of the students would recommend the class to others. Additionally, although the class was completely free to students, the responding participants said the would be willing to pay on average $125 to take this course.

One student wrote, “It was exciting having professionals in data science tutor us and take us through the classes. The challenges were eye opening and thought provoking, and the tutors were on point.”

Moringa hopes that the word-of-mouth experience will generate even greater interest in hosting the course again, and IBM expects to benefit by creating a steady talent pool for our hiring needs. The results of the course were presented at the KDD conference in London this past week, where we shared our experiences with other KDD Impact Program awardees.

After engaging with so many smart, energized and ambitious young Kenyans, I am grateful and humbled to have taught them and look forward to the great things they will do.

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