The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) has just concluded a series of data science seminars on data collection, analysis, and visualization.

Fifty-five students, researchers, scientists, and professors participated in Dr. Vukosi Marivate’s lecture for professionals interested in data science at the University of Sierra Leone-Fourah Bay College, on 7 Nov 2019. Dr. Marivate conducted a similar workshop at Njala University- Njala Campus Bo, earlier in that same week.

Data science is the study of data – involving methods of recording, storing, and analyzing data. The science of data allows for insights from both structured and unstructured data. Dr. Vukosi said the training covered data science in general, with a specific focus on data visualization and natural language processing.

“I taught data visualization today because it is straightforward to look at data in a picture and understand what it represents,” said Dr. Marivate.

“Writing long paragraphs can be confusing to understand because it takes a lot to understand written words, but single pictures can carry a thousand words.”

Data scientists are people who simplify complex data problems with their expertise in mathematics, statistics, and computer science. The development of data processing techniques in Sierra Leone is critical for all. Iye Mary Brimah-Sallu, a health worker who attended the seminar, said it was meaningful for her work.

“I am going to use the content of the teaching for my profession as a health worker and see how I can expand my knowledge on the use of Technology in the healthcare system. There is a lot of unused health care data that is just waiting to be gathered, and I know I can be that person to collate and bring them to the notice of decision-makers,” said Brimah-Sallu.

DSTI’s mission is to help Sierra Leone become an innovation and entrepreneurial hub where data supports decisions made in business and government. Over the past 12 months the Directorate has held several workshops on machine learning, DNA sequencing, and scientific writing for academics, civil servants, youth and start-up leaders.

“For many years, the country has lacked the value and appreciation of data. It is high time we caught up with the rest of the world in the use of data to make decisions and to make sure the population is data literate,” said Jasper Sembi, Operations Lead, DSTI.

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