Building capacity for big data management for Ghana’s developing economy

A Science and Technology Facilities Impact Award (STFC IAA) won by a team from the Physics department in collaboration with the start-up iDAM and facilitated by the JGI will provide hardware and software facilities for high volume data storage and archiving, processing, visualisation, algorithm development and testing for research in academia and industry in Ghana, contributing to the development of data science and digital innovation capability in the country.

Emmanuel Bempong-Manful, Henning Flaecher, Johannes Allotey, Kate Robson Brown

The team (Dr Henning Flaecher, Prof Kate Robson Brown and Prof Mark Birkinshaw) will develop a collaboration with local partners, the Ghana Radio Astronomy Observatory (GRAO), the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) project, and iDAM, a local start-up founded by two Bristol PhD students, Johannes Allotey and Emmanuel Bempong-Manful.

The Government of Ghana is embarking on the digitisation of several areas of the economy, including the passport office, ports and harbours and the energy sector, with the aim to improve services and revenue collection. These developing digital services together with those still to be implemented (e.g., in the digitisation of national IDs, health records, birth and death registry) will produce an enormous volume of sensitive data that requires efficient storage and management. However, despite the looming data volumes and recent advancement in statistical and machine learning techniques for inference and predictive analysis, these techniques are still under-utilised in Ghana.

As the economy grows and evolves through digitisation, and as data volumes increase, these data science solutions will become increasingly useful for quick, efficient and reliable extraction and evaluation of information from the datasets and to support evidence-based predictions.  As a result, there is an urgent need to develop facilities and a skills-based workforce in data analytics that will be capable of manipulating big datasets to make meaningful contributions to the Ghanaian economy. However, these goals can only be achieved if modern computing infrastructure/ hardware and software solutions are available.

This STFC funded project will lay the foundation of a modern computing facility which will be hosted by GRAO and iDAM to provide the technical support and capacity building activities. iDAM has long-term plans to establish a one-stop data management hub to tackle data challenges in Ghana and is currently working with the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute (GSSTI) and the DARA project to deliver data curation services.

Kakum Park, Nkrumah Museum, GRAO Observatory

This project will address a major societal challenge in the area of big data management in Ghana and aims to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through skills development programmes in data management and data science boosting new careers and economic growth and delivering quality data management services to the people of Ghana. The project will share regular updates via the JGI blog. If you would like to know more about this project, and would like to collaborate, please contact us via