2023: Nigerians need to make data-driven decisions — 10Alytics – Punch Newspapers

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Efemena Ikpro and Adeiza Suleman
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As Nigerians gear up for the 2023 general elections, tech gurus, Adeiza Suleman and Efemena Ikpro, who are also the co-founders of 10Alytics, in this interview, speak on how data analytics can change the narrative of the elections and its resultant impact on the economy.
How did your career in Data Analytics start?
Adeiza: My first degree was in industrial chemistry, and I graduated with a first class. I started my professional career with FITC as a management consulting Intern for a year before I ventured into data analytics. Applying analytics to our roles as Management Consultants in FITC was improvised by myself and Efemena as there was no Data Analyst specific role that existed at that time in FITC, but we sort of carved it out for ourselves. So, for tasks and report that involved numbers, we ensured that we added some data analytics flavors to it.
In addition, I got into a project that involved different consultants working to deliver solutions to one of the biggest integrated oil and gas companies in Nigeria and I was given a task to analyze the people data of that organization. I was able to come up with a report that was presented to the presidency and the recommendations were implemented, and this was when I was still a newbie in Data Analytics. It opened my mind to the possibilities around Data Analytics.

So, Efemena and I started building ourselves and improving our capabilities as Data Analysts with Efemena being the driving force. We attended various training, both online and physical. However, one of the gaps we noticed in all the training programs we attended was the inability to deliver real-life project-based curriculum where apart from just training and learning stuff in class, you can put your learning into practice and immediately see the outcome just as if you were a real Data Analyst. For the online classes, we didn’t have the opportunity to ask questions from the trainers because the classes were self-paced and recorded; we just watched videos and when we got stuck, finding a way out was very difficult and time consuming. Looking at the physical training as well, we realized that if you miss a class, you lose that class completely because you cannot go back to relive the experience of that class. So, we decided to close that gap and that was how 10Alytics came up.
When I left FITC in 2020, I joined Sahara Power Group as an Assistant Manager in the (Management Information System) MIS department. My day-to-day activities involved analyzing company data to extract insights to help the owners of the business and Management take data-driven decisions. So, when I left Sahara Power Group, I devoted all my time, energy and resources into building 10Alytics, together with Efemena, and it’s been success all the way. We’ve been able to develop a company that delivers exceptional training programs to participants in different geographical locations across the world.
So, what is 10Alytics doing differently from other EdTech firms?

Efemena: Prior to 10Alytics, we had garnered over 4 years of training and facilitation experience working with top consulting firms and training institutes across Nigeria. One thing I will say is that majority of these training firms are run by people who have no training experience or relevant tech industry experience. Most of them lack the technical capability to design and develop training curriculum that will help participants achieve their overall training objective/experience.
So, a lot of people register for these courses and eventually do not know how to transition from classroom to a full-time job, which is where 10Alytics comes in. We have a structured approach to learning, which we refer to as “experiential learning”. All our courses are project-based, and these projects are case studies of real-life scenarios, which gives our participants the relevant industry experience, thereby making it easy to transition from the classroom to getting a high pay tech role. From our experience, we see a lot of Chinese, Indians, and Europeans in tech, but we don’t see a lot of Nigerians or Africans in tech, and you wonder why? With the advent of people relocating outside the country for greener pastures who end up doing menial jobs due to misinformation and lack of information, one of our major drives at 10Alytics is to help Africans in diaspora to start or transition from different roles to high paying tech roles. In 2022, we were able to help over 300 professionals achieve this and the plan is to do more in 2023.
 
Nigerians are preparing for the 2023 general elections. What role can Data Analytics play in the coming elections?
Efemena: Looking at the potentials of data and analytics, while most businesses and economies leverage data to make informed decisions, the opposite is the case in Nigeria. Like the popular saying “In God we trust, every other person should bring data”, there is still a huge potential to what data can actually do because the economy in Nigeria is dilapidated and the policies are just based on gut-feeling and not data-driven.
The unavailability of data is very critical. We have done quite a number of projects and have seen that there is no data in Nigeria. When you’re looking to perform certain analysis to make smart/strategic decisions, there is no data to back you up and that is the number one challenge
So, even for the elections, there is no data existing for previous elections. This makes it hard to draw up any form of analytics for the forthcoming election, which brings us back to the issue of gathering data. We had tried to get information on previous elections for the forthcoming elections, there is no data anywhere on key achievements of candidates, previous offices held and performance. That is what data does; it enables benchmarking. But where data does not exist, we are left to argue on who best should be in those positions, which should not be.

With the incorporation of Data analytics into various roles and functions, how do you think it can drive the change we need to see in Nigeria and Africa and a whole?
Adeiza: First of all, Nigeria is notorious for not gathering data. What we even need to start with as a country is to start gathering data. For instance, policy implementation in Nigeria fails because right from the start, there is no clue on the population in those regions, number of out of school children, etc. We don’t know what we’re dealing with as a country and just working blindly. We’re just throwing different things to the wall and hoping some stick.
We need to start gathering data. We have so many organizations that already have base data, like the banks with BVN, regulators and government agencies; we can build on this. This is just one out of the many areas the government can take advantage of to drive policy implementation, economic growth and development using the various capabilities of data.
We’ve also seen an increase in demand for Data Analytics roles across organizations and different industries, do you think this is a short-term development?
Efemena: We are currently in a data-driven era and data is still in its early stages; it is still evolving and we are still scratching the surface of data. There is statistics that say 99% of the data that has been created were created in the last 2 years. This tells you the magnitude of opportunities in the data space. Before, we only had Data Analysts and Data Scientists, but now, these roles are evolving into new roles.
So, Data Analytics is still in its early stages and a lot more potentials are going to come up in the future as many roles are becoming analytical such as product analytics, supply chain analytics, HR analytics, customer analytics, logistics analytics, etc. Most roles are now evolving to involve data analytics in their day-to-day activities and that’s still the beginning.
What is your biggest achievement since founding 10Alytics?

Adeiza: Our biggest achievement is helping over 300 people get jobs and transition from the classroom into professional work life, as well as improving the capacity of over 22,000 Africans and people of the black community across the world in 2022 alone. Like Efe said earlier, you see a lot of Africans in different countries and you notice that majority of them engage in doing menial jobs — from bike delivery, to restaurant attendants, drivers, care assistants, etc. Not to look down on any profession, but we want to first create the awareness and then bring as many people into tech as possible.
Over the years, since starting 10Alytics, we’ve been able to help these kind of people understand that there are jobs that will pay a lot higher in terms of remuneration and is less stressful physically. This is us as Africans, as 10Alytics, solving Africa’s problems.
So, for me, the major achievement has been training over 22,000 within a space of less than 3 years and helping over 300 people get jobs by transitioning from the classroom to their desired jobs.
What are the major challenges you face?
Adeiza: The major challenge we have faced over the years is human capacity. Getting the right people into into the right roles within the organization, ensuring that employees are engaged and deliver the best-in-class quality. Also, in terms of publicity, advertising and marketing and being able to reach a wide range of people, costs a lot of money. Although this was a challenge at the beginning, we have been able to address it by injecting more capital into the business. We want to make sure that we create the awareness, so that the right people see us and know that sure we offer these services.
Seeing as personal funds were used to start up the company, would you say that having experience before starting a business is important?
Adeiza: Absolutely! You cannot give what you don’t have. So, in our case, if we’re going to deliver exceptional tech training programs, then we must have the technical expertise and have the experience as well. We’ve worked with organizations that offer similar programs to ours, however, there’s a clear distinction between what they do and what we do.

The owners of similar institutions are typical businessmen without the technical expertise. They hire experts to help them deliver these services. If people are doing right or wrong, they can’t tell and because they are more business focused, sometimes the overall training delivery suffers.
For us at 10Alytics, we have both the technical and entrepreneurial skills. We ensure that we deliver quality service by delivering the right content that is relevant to anyone who wants to become a data analyst. So, this has been a major contribution to our success story today.
Efemena: It is blend of training experience merged with relevant work experience. Currently, we’ve been in training for over seven years, working with consulting/training firms across the world and also having close to a decade of hands-on tech industry experience working for multinational organizations. So, this has helped us in building a detailed/holistic curriculum that is relevant to the industry. A lot of people don’t pay attention to curriculum/structure/learning experience, which is where our strength lies.
Knowing what you know now and with the experience you have garnered, if you could choose differently, would you have studied another course in the university?
Adeiza: I would not. I would never go close to Chemistry. I would have studied anything that would help me become a data analyst earlier. If I had known, I probably would not have gone to the university. But in Africa, we live in a world where certificates are favoured over skill sets and what you can deliver. Knowing what I know now, I would have studied Data Analytics or any other tech career as I believe that my professional growth would have been faster.
Efemena: Speaking from experience, degree doesn’t matter. It is good to have but won’t guarantee you a job or provide some undue advantage over others during a job application process. Maybe in Nigeria, it may still be highly relevant because majority of the organizations still ask if you have a degree or masters. But the workforce now is decentralized and globalized in the sense that you can be in Nigeria and be working for a company in the U.S./Canada/UK. These companies only care if you have the skill sets that they seek, and not your educational qualifications. I feel degrees may even become redundant in the nearest future. I don’t think I would change my undergraduate degree because I studied Economics and Economics is basically life because everything we do revolves around economics so I wouldn’t change it.
 So, what should be expect from 10Alytics in 2023?

Efemena: A lot of people are not in their desired career paths, especially Nigerians in the diaspora. You see videos on social media of Africans advising others not to relocate due to either the struggle of menial jobs or the cost of living and I wonder if these people know that they can actually get jobs in tech within 2 – 3 months of learning. So, in the coming year, we want to change the narrative that Nigerians who relocate do not need to do menial jobs to survive when they can get well-paying tech jobs. We want to make people understand how easy it is to acquire soft/hard skills that can change their lives and career paths.
So, we would be coming up with new initiatives that would be announced in due course, in addition to our other programs that would run during the year, as with previous years.
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