The DataFest Kampala, an international community event in East Africa that brings together data scientists, technologists, government, civil society, to connect and explore opportunities for collaboration, launched their 3rd edition event to focus on exploring the role that data plays.
The event organized by Pollicy, a civic technology organization, will be held over two days, from 29th to 30th of April 2021 at MoTIV in Bugolobi. In attendance will be 200 participants in accordance with the SOPs of the covid-19 pandemic. In addition, it will also feature a number of virtually hosted side events with Pollicy and its partners, engaging the audience outside Kampala and across Africa.
“DataFest is a celebration of the strides that we have made in using data to improve our life experiences. We want to host an engaging event that can inspire the next generation of data scientists from Uganda and beyond, learn-ing from our previous editions of DataFest,” Neema Iyer, Founder of Pollicy said.
According to Head of Programs at Pollicy, Gilbert Beyamba, this year’s event theme is “Living With Data”, and it will highlight the evident nature of data in our everyday interactions, from how we travel, bank and communicate to how global technology initiatives impact our democracies, ways of life and shape our futures.
“For the past year, most of us moved to the internet for our interactions at work, purchases, entertainment and education. A lot of people’s data has been collected, so we need to have the discussion about it in a way every affected person can understand,” Beyamba explained.
Data continues to be embedded in everyone’s daily lives, having both subtle and drastic impact. Africa has been growing as a hub for data collection and mining, with an ever-expanding data-dependent startup sector, especially in the fintech, mobile, delivery, and transportation spaces. As of 2020, East Africa boasts 48.2 million internet users, a figure which is expected to rise, as Re-designing Service Delivery demonstrated by the average growth rates of 3.2% for Uganda and Tanzania, and 16% in Kenya.
There is a need to broaden the discourse on the positive and negative impact of data to better understand key emerging areas such as machine learning, data governance, digital security and artificial intelligence, and the role that these technologies play in even our most mundane engagements. What happens from the second you log on to your devices, stream your favorite TV show or make that purchase you’ve been thinking about
Arthur Kakande; Data Products Lead at Pollicy explains that, “We need to look at every detail of data with scrutiny. We’ve seen huge increases in downloads of communication apps like Telegram, more subscriptions for Netflix, and more Zoom classes and meetings in the past year. For each of these, volumes of data are collected which makes DataFest important. We can make people more aware of what happens to this data” Arthur noted.
Iyer is keen on amplifying the use of data in the African context, through an ethics-based feminist approach. She envisions a society that can use data in a way that benefits everyone, whether that means building the next big startup or influencing policy.