Is Data The New Oil?

Is Data The New Oil?

Dangote Group is investing heavily in oil refinery and you will wonder if Dangote Group really knows what he’s doing. I mean 2030 is almost here, electric cars and other forms of clean energies will soon take over our industries, why then will he be investing billions to build a refinery?

Well, this post isn’t really about refineries or Dangote Group in a way, however, I feel I need to clear the fact that a lot of people have raised about if oil will still be calling the next twenty years. Yes, it will. Oil may not be valuable in other parts of the world, but Africa will totally rely on oil and as Prof Ndubuisi Ekekwe clearly analysed in a post of his, that in a bid to work towards green-house free gases, the western world would have to dump their cars that run on fuel into Africa, making it quite cheap due to huge demand. What we will see is a plethora of luxurious cars being owned by even the middle class. How we will address climatic issues in Africa, I’m yet to know and I see it as a huge problem for the continent. Yet, Dangote still has an oil market, a very huge one; bold move also and more money.

Now that I’ve explained simply on that, I’ll quickly make a twist to the reason for the article. If there’s anything that has been driving wealth in this part of Africa, it has been oil. Not even agriculture. Everyone believes oil to be more valuable than gold and like I explained, we still have some twenty, thirty or even fifty years depending on the government and how they are keen towards economic development.

However, there seems to be a new source of wealth that seem to have a more promising future than oil in Africa, and that is data. Data simply means having the accurate information of people, sets, insights, statistics or whatsoever in a database. Let me quickly take you down the journey of Amazon success. Amazon started by selling just books from authors to whoever needed them. Jeff Bezos played a long-term game – he was more focused on the customers than competitors. That’s not the point, the point is that his model was set up to understand the behavior of his customers in order for him to be able to use it to get more products on board. Jeff developed his own data himself and look where Amazon is. Let’s not talk about Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Uber, AirBnB, and a host of others who run their companies not just on anything but data. If there’s anything most of these companies are desperate for, it is data.

Now, I’m quite aware that there may be the negative side to this data rush and it might seem like I’m saying, “go get data”. Well, yes! Everything has its negative sides, there just needs to be regulations and that’s all. With data, you can control the behavior or your customers, you can be manipulative, you can force customers to buy products against their subconscious will and keep making your bucks. Those are the negative sides. However, using this same data, you can provide insights which will drive the growth of your company, your business and even the economy. If there’s anything I’d encourage the government to be more concerned about is on how to drive data into the system. Fine, it will shed a lot of workers, make the workforce light but give us acceleration in development.

Let me take a quick flip and focus on Nigeria, let me say Africa. I’m quite sure you’re aware that if there’s anything Africa is trying to achieve seriously now, it is economic development, and more than ever before, there are more hands-on deck to try to get this up. Start-ups, private bodies and even the government are involved. However, we’ve got a slight issue and it is the unavailability of data. Data is not concise, it is not widespread, and it is not open sourced. For start-ups to grow, they need key insights. For agriculture to thrive, we need to rely on deep insights and not just assumptions. For sales to be effective, we need to focus on specific insights. However, you’d realize that not so much has been done to develop it.

One of the reasons I founded my startup over a year ago was to solve unemployment through bridging the gap between the world of work and Africans (the youths specifically). This would achieve two major things for me;

  1. I will have built a system around the accumulation of data to solve this problem
  2. I can always expand into other businesses as I progress based on the data.

While I won’t be able to share the whole details and plot, I must say that I realized that whoever has the hay has the horse.

We need data to fix power issue in Nigeria. When I mean fix, I don’t mean supply. We have different power problems based in different regions. A region might need to have just 10 hours of power daily while some need just 5 hours. If the power release is not enough, then data can help us manage it effectively and even serve as a bridge between sellers and consumers of electricity equipment. Whoever has the data controls the market.

Same thing goes with education which I’m involved in. I have seen the rise of so many edutech start-ups and I do not seem threatened in a bit. I mean edutech start-ups within Africa. Very soon, we will all play a data game just like the race between Siri and Alexa in the world of voice intelligence. Whoever has the data, has the market.

My point is that;

  1. Look at the huge role data must play in this present time, the government needs to put systems in place to support its mining either by private bodies or whoever.
  2. Data is the new oil. Just like how Dangote Group is optimistic about the success of his refinery, whoever has the data has the market.

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