Strathmore University Data Week 2022

Strathmore Data Week is a grassroots training initative that provides an avenue for Data Science training, exposure, and mentorship to Data Science students, professionals, and researchers. This year’s Data Week theme was on cultivating Data Science research in Africa. The event provided a platform for PhD students and early career researchers in Data Science to interact and exchange ideas. The week also provided a spotlight for women academics, experts, researchers, and leaders in Data Science to present their research, share ideas and map a way forward for building Data Science research in Africa.

The Data Week provided the participants access to accessible training on advancements in data analytics through the research showcase, research, and grant writing sessions. The participants also benefited from networking opportunities with guests working in Data Science and potentially establishing future collaborations more specifically with organisations such as One Acre Fund, Microsoft Africa Research Institute, Development Initiatives, and the ONS Data Science Campus. The project PI who was in charge of the planning and organisation of the Data Week directly benefited from the award through gaining leadership and management skills, planning and preparing training workshops, and mentoring interns and junior members of the Data Science team.

Key outcomes from the funding include:

Women in Data Science

Almost half (40%) of the participants were women, showing uptake of Data Science interest among women researchers. The week provided a spotlight for women researchers to showcase their work and was one of our more successful events of the week. Hence, provides more evidence for the need for more women data science forums, which will bring together the participants and their networks to build on the discussion from the panel event and provide more opportunities to further skills and research in data science.

Data Science Content

Data Week generated needed Data Science content, stemming from the recorded panels, workshops, and data science research showcase sessions. This content will augment the existing @iLabAfrica Data Science online training and promote participation in future training events. We also developed an Ask for Analytics, a free service to support Strathmore University post-doctorates, researchers and staff with their analytics questions and training needs.

Data Science Collaborations

Various organisations come together to make the week successful. This opportunity further developed more collaboration opportunities between the organisations and @iLabAfrica. More specifically, Development Initiatives is seeking to engage us in more capacity building around Data Science skills and democratising data for evidence-based decision making, One Acre fund is hoping to partner to look at how data analytics can track farm inputs to every individual small-scale farmer, ONS Data Science Campus is hoping to have more collaboration around capacity building at the university level through organising datathon competitions for social good. The week also strengthened the collaborative ties between Strathmore and the University of Bristol’s Jean Golding Institute through the planning of the JGI International Women’s Day event, that took place during the week. Through these partnerships, we hope to apply for funding to work on various partner-led projects and hence create a hub where a number of postdocs will work on the projects and have the JGI team visit and support face-to-face programs.

The JGI and Strathmore University will continue to work on developing ideas for project funding, we are especially interested in applying for funding to support our work on developing digital technologies to support small farm practices. We have jointly applied for the AEDIB|NET Project for African Digital Innovation Hubs where we propose the development of responsible artificial intelligence in agriculture and food systems in Africa. We also aim to explore potential avenues to progress impact projects arising from this collaboration such as the Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Agriculture and Food Systems (AFS) Innovation Research Network in Africa project.

The feedback for Strathmore Data Week was good!…

The ONS Data Science Campus who support the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics who participated and supported the panel session on the Safe and Effective Data Use were happy to collaborate and support more events building capacity specifically around the use of national statistics.

The One Acre Fund representative who showcased their work on using data analytics to support small holder farmers were happy to take part and meet researchers who are using data science to provide innovations around climate smart agriculture.