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Kenya: first African country to test big data on development

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Kenya is the only African country selected by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to pilot the use of big data for better ICT measurement.

Philippines, Colombia, United Arab Emirates, Korea and Georgia have also been enlisted alongside Kenya.

The Big Data pilot study is in line with the outcomes of the World Telecommunication /ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS), which called for a data revolution and use of new data sources to complement sector statistics.
The pilot study is part of ITU’s initiative that seeks to explore innovative ways of using big data for development and improved measurement of the information society.

“The main aim is to identify big data sources for ICT measurement, to engage with new partners, and to implement concrete, big data case studies that could later be scaled up as part of a larger, long-term project,” said Margus Tiru, a consultant with ITU, at the inception workshop for the big data pilot study, in Nairobi on Wednesday.
Mr Tiru noted that the countries were picked based on their geographical areas and the level of ICT penetration in the countries. ITU will provide the countries with data scientists to coordinate the pilot studies.
“The aim is to move away from static traditional data collection methods like household surveys, to use of indicators which are much faster,” Mr Tiru added.
Big Data is a phrase used to mean a massive volume of both structured and unstructured data that is difficult to process using traditional database and software techniques.

In most enterprise scenarios the volume of data is too big, moves too fast or it exceeds current processing capacity.
This data, when captured, formatted, manipulated, stored, and analyzed can help a company to gain useful insight to increase revenues, get or retain customers, and improve operations.
Richard Tonui, Acting Assistant Director/Market Analysis and Tariffs, who spoke on behalf of the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA’s) Director General, Francis Wangusi , said big data if well analysed has the capacity to provide input into processes to save lives, improve education, enhance government services, increase marketplace efficiency, and boost economic productivity.
“Official statistics based on big data will help the governments close digital and economic gaps , and private sector identify market opportunities. Towards this end, we wish to sincerely thank ITU for identifying Kenya as part of the pilot project.” Mr Tonui noted.
According to a research conducted by IDG Connect,- a demand generation division of International Data Group– in late 2013, there has been a clear move towards big data in Kenya.
Most organizations and businesses seemed ready in terms of the infrastructure but the necessary analytical skills remained a big challenge.
At least 75 per cent either have or are planning on the necessary infrastructure for Big Data projects whereas 64 per cent are either at the planning or pilot stage of their Big Data projects.

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