[GRID3 Nigeria Data Challenge] From AI to GIS: ‘Yosola Adekanmbi Oluwaseun’s concept for reducing the impact of solid waste management in Nigeria

September 18, 2020

‘Yosola Adekanmbi Oluwaseun and Nathaniel O. Solomon are two Nigerian artificial intelligence (AI) enthusiasts and the two winners of the 2019 GRID3 Data Challenge from the Data Science Nigeria (DSN) AI Bootcamp. This article features the journey and work of ‘Yosola in his collaboration with GRID3 and DSN to learn and apply geospatial techniques for sustainable development. Read the whole background here.

‘Yosola Adekanmbi Oluwaseun’s passion for financial technology and data brought him to reflect on how his skills in data science and software development could be applied to solve real-world problems. A step towards achieving his goals was by twice attending the AI Bootcamp organised by Data Science Nigeria (DSN), a GRID3 partner, which aims to accelerate Nigeria’s socio-economic development by raising one million AI talents in 10 years.

"Being a part of the DSN's Bootcamp has always been a dream of mine, since I started my journey into data science,"

‘Yosola explains.

DSN’s AI Bootcamp is renowned for selecting talented data science enthusiasts across the country to enhance their skills in AI and data analytics, through lectures and interactive workshops led by global industry leaders and academic researchers. GRID3 was invited to provide participants with a new perspective on data, with sessions focusing on Geographic Informations Systems (GIS) and gridded population modelling.

“[Attending] the GRID3 session was a risky decision to take, compared to other sessions that had cash prizes and gifts for its participants. Looking back, I have no regrets as I’ve had a lot to learn both during and after the Bootcamp,” comments Yosola.

While GIS was a new area to discover for ‘Yosola, the GRID3 workshop spurred creativity from day one: “It takes time for me to develop interest in learning new things, but with the great trainers from GRID3, right on my seat in the class, I was already projecting the great things that could be done with GIS. I was intrigued about how GIS can help make our lives better. I used to think that GIS was all about mapping but it’s a lot more than that, and a lot of cool things can be made with it.”

Following the Bootcamp, ‘Yosola submitted a Data Challenge idea, suggesting to apply GIS techniques and gridded estimates to reduce the impact of solid waste management for communities in Nigeria. After his submission was selected,  ‘Yosola was then mentored by Alina Game, Michael Harper and Wole Ademola, three GRID3 experts on GIS and geospatial analytics, to turn his idea into a concept note.

Nigeria generates an estimated average of 42 million tonnes annually. This is more than half of the 62 million tonnes produced in sub-saharan Africa annually. For ‘Yosola, there was an urgent need to raise awareness in communities on methods of waste disposal as well as provide healthy means for them to do this. He decided to develop a concept note on this issue with GRID3 to:

  1. Identify the most suitable location for siting/relocating solid waste dump sites within communities
  2. Evaluate the negative impact averted from population at risk close to solid waste dump site within communities
  3. Identify the mitigative measures for existing dump site within communities that are unlikely to be relocated
  4. Identify the most suitable end to end waste management system for communities.

For his analysis, ‘Yosola selected population and dump site locations as baseline data. These datasets are available through the GRID3 Nigeria data portal at  Once he determined his approach, ‘Yosola carried out an initial proof of concept analysis for Lagos. This analysis was backed up by comprehensive literature review to explain the ins and outs of the situation.

“‘Yosola recognised the importance of not only doing geospatial analysis, but also considering the domain knowledge required to determine relevant and suitable solutions,” details  Michael Harper.

Reducing the impact of solid waste management for communities in Nigeria using geospatial analytics

To read the full concept note [PDF], Reducing the impact of solid waste management for communities in Nigeria using geospatial analytics, please click here.

While the Data Challenge primarily aimed to enhance the winners’ geospatial data understanding and skills, and help them convert their idea into a viable concept note, the learning went beyond pure data science. Sustainable and impactful use of geospatial data relies on strengthening the capacity of data users not only on the data itself, but the soft skills around it. GRID3’s focus has not only been on GIS or gridded population data, but also on equipping  participants with tools and methods to future-proof their career and enhance their organisational, business writing and critical thinking skills.

“I learnt a whole lot, from working and collaborating with people remotely via conference calls and Google docs, to learning how to organise my thoughts and ideas using a concept note template. The template I got from working with GRID3 would go on to be applicable to many other projects. I learnt various new technologies for geospatial analysis, new tools to add to my toolbox,” explains ‘Yosola.

Through the Data Challenge, GRID3 and DSN worked together to boost the confidence of young data analysts in utilising new data science techniques and broaden their knowledge by training them on the foundations of GIS and gridded population modelling.

“Even just starting out in the GIS field, ‘Yosola was willing to learn the relevant geospatial skills needed to prove the concept which, at the end, made him more confident and increased his knowledge of geospatial analysis,” comments Wole Ademola.

“I was impressed with his willingness to learn and how quickly he picked things up” adds Alina Game. “This exploratory analysis is just the start for this idea – there is much more that can be achieved and I hope ‘Yosola continues with this concept and continues to develop his GIS skills”.

‘Yosola was one of the two winners of the GRID3 Data Challenge. Our second feature allows us to discover how GIS can be used to support Nigerian start-ups through a target location analyser. To read Nathaniel O. Solomon’s journey and geospatial concept, please click here

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