Machine Learning and Intelligent Systems

Big Data Analytics Project to transform Agricultural Insurance in Africa using Climate Data

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Weather affects everything. It is both an essential resource and a significant risk factor for life on Earth. What’s more, weather is one of the most unpredictable aspects of human existence, yet we have no choice but to try our hand at predicting it. After all, our very lives depend on our having ample supplies of foodstuffs that are themselves dependent on adequate precipitation, growing seasons and so forth. Weather is no small matter. Many businesses are directly or indirectly linked with weather conditions. For instance, agriculture relies on perfect weather forecasting for when to plant, irrigate and harvest.

Farmers are highly vulnerable to weather shocks, particularly in Africa, where there is a high reliance on rain-fed agriculture. It is therefore unsurprising that much attention has been paid to developing climate risk management tools for farmers to mitigate and transfer the risk of weather shocks such as drought and flood. Small farms are vulnerable to climate risk, but most smallholder farmers around the world don’t have access to insurance and other financial tools to manage fluctuations in climate.

Insurance is one way to increase resiliency to climate shocks, but not only in the way you might think. There’s a subtler benefit to agriculture insurance, and one that is essential for adapting our food systems to a changing climate: when farmers feel financially secure, they’re more likely to take productive risks. In the decades to come, we can expect increasingly difficult growing seasons for farmers, and so taking advantage of good years will become more and more important – for both our food supply and farmers’ livelihoods. In recent years, agricultural insurance has become part research Actuarial Science program, particularly weather index-based insurance (WII). The interesting aspect has been that, rather than compensating observed damage, compensation in WII is determined on the basis of an independent index (such as the cumulative precipitation falling in a certain window of time or the average yield over a district).

The agriculture insurance, called weather index insurance, will provide a way to fill the insurance gap by basing payouts on weather and satellite data instead of expensive site visits from claims adjusters. This will be an addition to already developed Livestock indexed based insurance by ILRI researchers. The indexed based crop insurance will protect farmers against financial risks posed by extreme weather events, and has been widely advocated as a tool to help farmer households to escape poverty traps and invest in climate-smart high-productivity agriculture. Over the past decade there has been great deal of effort placed into index insurance–that may have the potential to reach these farmers. Unlike more traditional forms of insurance, which require individual verification of losses, index insurance works by providing payouts when a measurable index flags a major problem that the farmers face, such as a widespread drought or flood. In theory, this should allow insurance coverage to reach many more farmers

Index insurance is innovative, but can it reach a critical mass using Satelitte data provided by TWIGA?

 

Transforming Weather Information Growth In Africa – TWIGA is a 4-year project (2018 – 2021) under EU Horizon2020 aimed to transform weather water data into value-added information services.

Satellite data provide by TWIGA will give index insurance the scaling power needed to reach all the small scale farmers across Africa.

A Kenyan Insurance sector stakeholders workshop will be held this first quarter of 2019 to address the challenges available in implementing weather indexed based insurance. The theme of the workshop will be:  Index insurance is innovative, but can it reach a critical mass using Satelitte data provided by TWIGA? This could be the start of touching the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers across the African continent that are under threat from extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods with risks projected to increase significantly in future years due to climate change.

Developers require the ability to easily combine weather functionality, including forecast and observational data, with numerous data and application services to build advanced web and mobile applications that leverage cognitive capabilities, analytics, mobile and IoT services without wasting cycles installing or managing software and deploying hardware.

In conclusion, remotely sensed data can be used to extend weather index insurance to millions of farmers in Africa and beyond—potentially mitigating their exposure to climate-related risk. On the other hand, inappropriate use of these data could cause great harm. This workshop enabled key players in the weather index insurance industry to engage directly with data providers and scientists. As a result, data providers now have a clearer idea of the ways in which their products are being used. The insurance industry, moreover, has a better understanding of both the opportunities and pitfalls of using remotely sensed data. Following the success of this workshop, the participants agreed that deeper engagement between data providers, scientists, and the weather index insurance industry would be of benefit to all parties. Further workshops, projects, and collaborations are planned to focus on the intelligence and Analytics platform is powered by AI techniques that leverage real-time weather feeds and historical data. This will consider GIS analytics where the following will be the main focus: Live weather feeds from different locations (Latitude/Longitude); Temperature, water level, wind and other sensors continuously transmitting data; Historical weather data publicly available; Weather maps (precipitations, clouds, pressure, temperature, wind, weather stations).

The project aims to achieve the following benefits to the Kenya and Africa as a whole ;

  • Farmers get warned earlier of what the weather will be like for that particular month.
  • Help farmers to take appropriate precautions to stay safe in case of unwanted occurrences.
  • With forecasting methods, farmers can get better outcomes with the help of accurate predictions. Hence farmers will be able to plan the planting as per water supplies.

Equity Bank and @iLabAfrica to train data scientists.

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Equity Bank has partnered with Strathmore University, @iLabAfrica Centre to train data scientists for the financial sector.

Data Science is helping in great ways for banks and financial institutions , including economic advisories to identify patterns in markets and predictions. Getting best use of data for their benefits . Banks have realized that big data technologies can help them focus their resources efficiently, make smarter decisions, and improve performance.

Banks and other finance companies has a lot of data. Data is not only the new oil, but it is the crude oil and Analytics is the refinery. The use of Data Science in banking is more than a trend. It has become a necessity to keep up with customer demands. They know customers, their details, purchase powers, purchase patterns and much more that is provided by the Big Data implosion. The Banks need skilled team that can handle not only Descriptive analytics, but also Diagnostic analytics, Predictive analytics and Prescriptive analytics.

There is great a need of Data scientist in Kenya’s financial sector. This is the reason Equity is leading the way in developing future data scientists. There will be 30 graduating students selected from Bachelor of Business Science – Actuarial Science, Financial Engineering and Financial Economics degrees in addition to IT students from Bachelor of Informatics and Computer Science. This was arrived since Data Scientist is someone with three key knowledge areas – Computing, Statistics and Business Domain

The students are currently attending introductory classes in Data science that has been going on for the last 18 months. The students will review statistics, logistic regression, Generalized models, cover specialized topics in data preparation, data visualization and introduction to Machine learning. At the end of the training, successful candidate will join Equity bank’s data science team.

This partnership is one among many that Stathmore University is working with various companies to fill the skill gap in Data Science. The University is also looking at launching a Masters in Data Science to give a chance to Kenyans to acquire data science skills.

RICOH Company executives visit @iLabAfrica

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A delegation of Ricoh Company Limited executives, including CEO Yoshinori Yamashita, met with @iLabAfrica department heads and director Joseph Sevilla on Wednesday 15th September to discuss partnership between Ricoh and @iLabAfrica.

Ricoh a Japanese imaging and electronics company with a worldwide influence on technology and industry visited @iLabAfrica to understand opportunities available in Kenya and Africa with the hopes of establishing a foundation for sustainable growth on the continent. The multinational has a worldwide workforce of approximately 97,000 employees and a turnover of over 2 billion Yen.

Part of Ricoh’s Sustainable Development Goals strategy is its policy of leveraging the strengths of manufacturing technology to make breakthroughs in technology and industry. A primary actuator of this endeavour is the company’s strong commitment to leading research and development across multiple markets around the world. Ricoh has technology and customer research groups in roughly 200 countries across the world and sees investment in Kenya as a gateway to connecting East, Central and South Africa to its expansive network.

Ricoh already has presence in the East African market through its ubiquitous imaging and printing devices, and through its partnership with The Copycat Limited—Ricoh’s authorised service provider in the region. The Copycat Limited is also a partner of @iLabAfrica and this connection made the meeting between Ricoh Co. Ltd and @iLabAfrica possible.

David Mills, CEO of Ricoh’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, expressed the company’s desire to digitise workspaces in Africa through partners such as The Copycat Limited. @iLabAfrica Director Joseph Sevilla pointed to the challenge-based learning programme that @iBizAfrica has recently launched. These programme is developed to have small teams of tech-centric entrepreneurs working on specific organisation challenges using the resources, networks and mentors that are available in the @iBizAfrica learning space.

A partnership between Ricoh and @iLabAfrica could assist entrepreneurs and developers,  introduce novel solutions for the East African, Japanese, and global markets. Ricoh’s expertise in printing and imaging technology could be a springboard for innovations in 3D and textile printing such as the ongoing Fundamentals of IoT and 3D Printing Course run by @iBizAfrica in partnership with Kuunda 3D.

 

@iLabAfrica, KAM, GIZ launch jobs portal

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The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) through @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University has launched a portal where job seekers and industry players can link to create synergies. The Jobs portal was unveiled during the launch of the first ever TVET Job Summit in Nairobi, the site that will act as a direct link between industries and job seeking technical skills graduates.

The portal was developed in partnership with German Development Cooperation through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) E4D/SOGA – Employment and Skills for Eastern Africa.

The portal which was designed by @iLabAfrica, Strathmore Univeristy is set to host job opportunities from businesses and industries and targets job seeking graduates from technical institutions.

Speaking at the KAM Job Summit, @iLabAfrica Director, Dr. Joseph Sevilla mentioned “It is great to see industry and education sectors come together to create job portals for the youth. These developments create employment opportunities for the youth by linking their skills to the right jobs and eventually growing the economy of the country. ”

Chief Administrative Secretary, Labour and Social Protection, Mr. Abdul Bahari noted that the mismatch between skills possessed by graduates of training institutions and those demanded by industry is one of key reasons behind the high unemployment rates in the country, especially amongst the youth.

Manufacturing is one of the pillars in the Government’s Big Four Initiative, which seeks to increase the manufacturing share of the country’s GDP from 8.4 percent in 2017 to 15 percent by 2022.Intertwined with the growth of manufacturing, is the Government’s goal of ensuring adequate employment opportunities for its citizens.”

 

Also present at the summit, Principal Secretary Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Dr. Kevit Desai reiterated the importance of the role of industry in creating opportunities for technical skills graduates, “Industry has a role to play in creating sabbatical for our trainees. We are at a time in this nation that we must look beyond technical issues, we must consider national values, cohesion, attitudinal issues and must be inculcated as a standard for international competitiveness.”

KAM Chairlady, Ms. Flora Mutahi noted that the job site will provide grounds for industry to meet its much desired skills for growth. Adding that, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change global definitions of work, labour and production and eventually disrupt traditional work processes.

“The job portal is the much needed intervention that industry desired to have direct linkage to technical skilled graduates. It is also an opportunity for business leaders and industries to collaborate with institutions to grow the employment ratio in the country,” said Ms Mutahi.

Also at the event, GIZ Country Director Mr. Stephen Opitz emphasized the GIZ engagement towards the development of technical skills in the country.

“Through GIZ E4D/SOGA programme, we aim to train about 12000 youth, and purpose to place about 7000, of the trained youth, by 2019.The portal will be a valuable platform that will easily connect employers and potential talents. That is why we are partnering with KAM to make this happen,” added Mr. Opitz.

Industry remains a big contributor to jobs creation, which is a major driver for economic development. The President’s Big Four Action plan highlights the manufacturing sector as a priority sector in transforming the lives of Kenyans through job and wealth creation.

 

@ilabAfrica and Atlancis Technologies sign partnership in Information Technology Research and Development

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Mr. Daniel Kinyua, CEO Atlancis and Dr. Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica Research Centre

@ilabafrica, Strathmore University and Atlancis Technologies  signed a strategic partnership focused on cutting-edge research into the next generation of information technology.

The partnership signed by @iLabAfrica Research Centre will allow Strathmore University and Atlancis to jointly explore and provide direction for academic researchers and technology experts in Kenya to collectively innovate and develop applications in research areas such as energy, banking, healthcare, education and transport among other sectors as well as champion development of local technology ecosystem.

The focus of this collaboration will be on the emerging technologies such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain Technology, Cyber Security, Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud Services.

‘The next frontier of research is clearly going to be driven by technology, and universities must nurture relevant linkages with industry to make this happen. In this way, the research output coming from universities will resonate with the needs of industry’. says, Dr. Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica Research Centre.

‘Atlancis’ decision to collaborate with Strathmore University will keep the two partners as the country’s leaders in big data. This initiative is good news for Kenya’s technology base, universities and the economy’, reiterated Mr. Kinyua, CEO, Atlancis Technologies.

The MoU was signed by Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director of Strathmore’s @iLabAfrica Research Centre and Mr. Daniel Kinyua, Chief Executive of Atlancis Technologies.

Smarter Transportation solutions for African cities

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@ilabAfrica was this week pleased to host Professor Tierra Bills an Assistant Professor and Michigan Society Fellow in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Bills was visiting to give a lecture on, An Electronic Travel Data Collection Tool for Nairobi Kenya with the ultimate goal of designing Smarter Transportation solutions for rapidly developing African cities.

Like many other African cities, Nairobi is now grappling with the challenges of rapid urbanization. Kenya’s population has increased by 55% over the last decade, and this combined with significant rural-to-urban migration in Kenya has resulted in critical stress on Nairobi’s limited transportation infrastructure.

To mitigate these transportation issues, Nairobi County Government had proposed a plan for (formalized) mass public transportation across the region. The challenge is the lack of adequate transportation data for investigating travel preferences of Nairobi travelers.

For Nairobi, there is currently no on-going data collection system or periodic program effort to investigate the activity-based travel behaviors of Nairobi residents. This can significantly constrain the ability Nairobi transportation planners to investigate (via scenario analysis and forecasting) transportation solutions that will address Nairobi’s multimodal transportation needs.

To gather enough data Dr. Bills is working with a team of Kenyan students (software development and computer science) to design, prototype, and test an electronic and multi-source travel data collection tool.

The preliminary data collected with this tool will be used to refine the data collection tool for future region-wide travel studies in Nairobi, Kenya. Further, this tool would be a significant contribution to researchers and planners interested in implementing data-driven transportation policies and traffic solutions in African as well as other developing cities. Given that such a transportation data collection tool has not been developed for Kenya before, there are many interesting research questions involved with this project.

This project will require students focusing on the following areas: • SMS frontend application • Android front end application among others.

The data collected from such initiatives would be used to estimate (the first) activity based travel demand model for the Nairobi region. In addition to generating a dataset for these modeling purposes, a parallel objective would be to distill a general framework for delivering reliable travel survey data using a hybrid of electronic data collection sources. This hybrid approach could then be replicated for other African and developing cities.

Professor Tierra Bills Bio is working on the project in collaboration for Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica – Strathmore University.

Dr. Tierra Bills. Dr. Bills is an Assistant Professor and Michigan Society Fellow in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Michigan. She has recently joined the department (in Fall 2016) after spending 3 years as a Research Scientist at IBM Research Africa. While in Kenya, Dr. Bills also lectured at Strathmore University’s iLabAfrica and taught MTI 8203 Research Methodology for Application Development. Much of Dr. Bills’ research focuses on investigating the social impacts of transportation projects.

For more information write to john on jolukuru@strathmore.edu

 

 

Advanced Analysis & Visualization in Excel

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Goal is Simple: Learn to create one pager executive dashboards in MS Excel that update with the click of the Refresh button, or with a simple copy-paste of your new data.

This course is suitable for you if you answer YES to:-

  • Do you want to spend less time creating reports and more time analyzing and gaining insights from the reports?
  • Do your reports take a long time to update each reporting cycle?
  • Do you want to gain skills to avail credible dashboards that allow the management to understand what is going on and make better decisions, quickly?

Read more HERE