Absa has launched two open challenges on the Zindi platform, the largest professional network for data scientists in Africa.
It calls on Zindi users to use machine learning to solve business challenges across Absa’s Everyday Banking and Corporate and Investment Banking services. The challenges will run until December and aim to provide participants with practical experience in data science. The best submissions will take home R175,000 in prize money.
The initiative was announced at a Data Science Career Day, hosted by Absa and Zindi at one of Absa’s Johannesburg offices as well as online.
“South Africa is experiencing a data scientist shortage,” says Gavin Cope, head of consumer product data for Everyday Banking at Absa. “By collaborating with networks like Zindi, we hope to not only provide young people with critical skills but also foster and retain data science talent in the technology sector.”
According to Cope, the career day provided young people with information they need to make an informed career choice, as well as make them aware of future opportunities.
With more than 48,000 data scientists registered on the community platform, Zindi says it is the leading network for data scientists in Africa. The company provides organisations across Africa and globally with access to data science solutions, talent and a developer community that can add value to almost any organisation.
Celina Lee, Zindi co-founder and CEO, says: “By partnering with organisations like Absa, Zindi is providing real-world experience and professional exposure to a whole new generation of African talent. The Data Science Career Day and the challenges we are running with Absa are giving young people access to learning and career opportunities that they would otherwise miss out on.”
Businesses, societies and economies all benefit from data science, according to a report by the World Economic Forum. The data science skillset is not fixed and is rapidly evolving as new opportunities in data analysis and further technological advances redefine the specific skills composition of data scientist roles. Data science skills are in high demand not only in the technology sector, but also in other sectors such as media and entertainment, financial services, and professional services.
Wilhelm Krige, Absa interim group information and technology officer, says: “Technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing the very nature of jobs, as well as the skills required to perform them at an increasing rate. Absa’s goal is to continue focusing on education and skills development and we look forward to ongoing collaboration with industry experts to equip young people with the training and tools they need for the future workplace.”