I have been in the Data Science industry for almost three years now, in Nigeria. Over the course of these years, I have met quite a number of people that are interested in building a career in this field. Some of these people have been from the organisations I worked with, or people in my circle referring me to them or sometimes even a random message on Twitter.
My opinion about this is that it depends on the applications and your expectations of the industry.
What do I mean?
As with any field, there are successful people and people that are not yet as successful. Plus, data science is a budding industry; it has been around for years, as early as the 1970s, but it’s only becoming mainstream recently. There are pros and cons to this and I would begin with the pros.
Going into such a field is good because you have the first-mover advantage and the talent market is not over-saturated yet. There is also room for a lot of quick growth on the job which, to be honest, can be a disadvantage, but is also a great opportunity.
The disadvantage of it being a pretty new industry is that one has a lot of learning to do, it is very fast-paced and there is always something new coming up almost every other day. Also, most roles will be research-intensive because there is a need for a lot of research at this phase.
Another disadvantage is that not every company might have roles in that field, yet. This is especially common among startups that are yet to scale and unfortunately, most Nigerian companies fall within this category.
Data Science in Nigerian Companies
As the name implies, data science primarily hinges on data. The prerequisite to building out a data science team should be the availability of this data. It must not be perfect, clean data; but it should be available or, at least, one should be able to retrieve it from where it is being tracked and stored.
If the company does not have any data yet, the first team that should be built out is the data engineering team, before bringing on data scientists, to avoid frustration, unmet expectations and substandard practices. Data engineers are responsible for setting up pipelines to automatically collect data on a large scale, store the data and also provide the infrastructure for the flow and processing of this data.
That being said, most companies hiring for Data Science roles are companies that have collected data (mostly on a large scale) and are looking to make better sense of this data, use it to drive business decisions, or are looking to begin the process. I have compiled a list of some companies in Nigeria that have data scientist and data analyst roles (if you have any suggested changes to this list, please request edit access with the suggested information or send an email to me: contactaniekan at gmail dot com).
It is also important to remember that the definition and roles of a Data Scientist differ from organisation to organisation. Some are more product-focused, some focus more on statistical inference and predictive analytics, some are more machine learning focused, among others.
How can I get a Data Science job in Nigeria?
One of the easiest and most common ways to land a job as a Data Scientist is to get into the company through another role then transfer internally with time. One common role that allows one to grow into a Data Scientist with time is the Data Analyst role. A data analyst obtains data, cleans and wrangles it, draws insights from the data and, most times presents their findings from the analysis. Another possible transition is from Data Engineering to Data Science as these roles are most times on the same team or close teams and some of the skills are transferable.
There is also the direct path of applying for a Data Science job at whatever level (Intern, Junior, Intermediate, Senior, Manager) the company is seeking to fill based on your skill sets and experience.
If you’re looking to just begin your learning journey, Data Science Nigeria (DSN) is a helpful community and She Code Africa (SCA) has a Data Science channel for ladies. You could check them out and I hope your journey progresses smoothly.
The world today is a global village and there are quite a number of remote opportunities, as well. You could consider giving those a shot. Stack Overflow and Glassdoor are some websites where you can see these remote job postings.
I hope this article has been helpful if you’re looking to build a Data Science career in Nigeria. You can drop a comment below, reach out to me on Twitter, LinkedIn or send an email: contactaniekan at gmail dot com if you would like a follow-up article expatiating the other data roles mentioned in this article.
Thank you for reading.