Finance

Africa needs much public data infrastructure for data collection, Preston Ideh, co-founder and CEO at Stears


The use of data is critical in our everyday life, helping individuals, organizations as well as government to limit bias in making informed decisions. However, when it comes to making the smartest decisions about how to allocate capital or the best business decision to make around the African continent, there is still a lot of information that government, operators and stakeholders need to access.

Stears, an intelligence company, is aiming to define a new standard around access to quality analysis and data in Africa through providing fluid access to data and insight. It financial data business, that provides financial, economic and corporate data and analytics to African market professionals.

Preston Ideh, co-founder and CEO at Stears while speaking during the Nairametrics Business Half Hour programme explained that the challenges of data accessibility span across the different data gathering processes which involve collection, storage, distribution among others.

“There is that problem of collecting and organising data that is already available. Broadly speaking, when you look at the quality of the data that the US, European and Asian market have, then you will realize that relative to them, we don’t have data. There are just so many numbers that we can’t make sense of because, it is difficult to embrace any narrative that points out that data just need to be collected. Some of it still needs to be organized, but a lot of it needs to be collected.

“Coming from a data infrastructure, we need much public data infrastructure for data collection. This means over the next couple of years, there is a need for much stronger and more robust data funding and we need better data coming out of ministries, department and agencies supported by private companies.

On the operation of the company, Preston said that the company doesn’t actually do a lot of data collection for the government. “Our core product in the market is based on premium which is basically modelled like a media publication but anyone can get the data or do the subscription. It is data-driven for anyone and we always focus on data-driven insight.

“But with private companies, we do quite a bit of work for people who want to collect data that hasn’t been collected, proprietary data, in some cases, they want us to analyse data for predictions – they give us a problem and they want us to use data-driven approach to solve that problem.

Preston explained that it gets data from different ways which include proprietary, private and public. “Proprietary in the sense that we go out by ourselves and just do the data collection. That could be through service, pool that we organize, we figure out the sample size, the potential accuracy under data by ourselves. In other cases, it’s relying on models and predictions. If we have a lot of historical data for instance if you are looking at GDP for the last 50 years and you also look at a couple of external factors that are readily available. That’s proprietary”

“Public data is gotten from the public domain, whether it’s from the central bank, NBS or any ministry or agency and then recharging them would probably be the format of the data. there is also private data from associations, operators and there is a well-established data license across the world where people work with partners to give them insight into market.”

While open data is a necessity for activating a rich ecosystem, the question of value creation comes in when more effort is being put into generating important data especially geared towards financial decisions.

Many times, you have to do a lot of work on that data, you have to bring human intelligence to the table. So open data is the foundation in the data ecosystem, but when more value is created on top, then you start to see the business opportunities,” he said.



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