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R User Group Kano, Nigeria, is Bringing in the Next Generation of Students to the R Community

By December 29, 2021Blog

The R Consortium recently reached out to Umar Isah Adam to find out more about the status of the R User Group Kano. Umar is a freelance data analyst who works as a part-time typist, data analyst, and  volunteer mathematics teacher at a local school. Umar loves to write programs and enjoys contributing to society. He graduated from the Federal University of Dutse in 2017 and holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He is an organizer of the Google Developers Group (GDG) Dutse. After his graduation, he picked up an interest in data science and went for a series of courses including a nano degree online from Udacity, and R and Python programming from Coursera.

When he’s not programming or leading the R User Group Kano, Umar loves to play video games and watch movies.

What is the R community like in Nigeria?

In my opinion, the R community is doing well in Nigeria, but it can be better. We should work to make the whole R community connected and in touch with one another. We should be tracking progress and sharing experiences. Live events should be organized across the country, maybe once or twice a year. This would help to strengthen the R community, and it will help a lot in reaching out to others. It will also help the new chapters grow and acquire more audience. Furthermore, the younger generation needs to be engaged in the communities in order to help grow the community in the future.

In the past year, did you have to change your techniques to connect and collaborate with members? For example, did you use GitHub, video conferencing, online discussion groups more? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people that are unable to attend physical events in the future?  How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?

COVID drastically affected our ability to connect with members because most of the time the people we are trying to reach are new to programming or to the R language, so meeting them in person has a significant effect on their interest and confidence. Most of the time we are meeting online we experience a lot of internet connection problems, this gives us a lot of headaches in achieving what we want to achieve. We have tried using different techniques to connect, but it is not working out well. It’s not all negative. Video conferencing and other technologies can be used in the future to make the group more inclusive to those who cannot attend.

What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?

Young adults are leaving secondary and tertiary schools, and with the rate of unemployment, the tech ecosystem is enlarging and areas like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, etc. are gaining visibility. These young people have to learn R and Python. 

I see a lot of people wanting to learn R. In fact, I don’t think we will be able to accommodate the massive crowd of new R learners in the coming year. There are no proper certification courses for these people, and the issues of access to the internet and computers poses a threat to this growth.

Of the Funded Projects by the R Consortium,  do you have a favorite project?  Why is it your favorite?

Interactive visualisations in R vial R-to-JavaScript-Transpilation. This is my favorite project because it will open a whole lot of chapters in the R community that will grow through this project.

Of the Active Working Groups, which is your favorite?  Why is it your favorite?

R-Medicine is my favorite, because it will bring a real change in the medical field, it will save lives, and help grow a healthy world. I’ll be glad to have an opportunity to be with the team.

When is your next event? Please give details!

The time of our next event is not fixed yet. However, we are currently collaborating with Global AI hub to reach out to Secondary schools, and the program is expected to be continuous.  Secondary students from selected schools will be given the opportunity to engage in a code lab with hands-on experience. 

I realized most of the R community members are not as young as I thought, and for the future of the community, younger generations will have to be engaged and trained for them to be able to help the R community and brainstorm some exemplary solutions for the community. Given the current situation, schools will be chosen based on the availability of computers and interest of the students to be introduced to programming. All interested students can join regardless of their classes. This opportunity will be used to introduce R to the students, showcase its power and highlight some interesting projects that are done in R to capture their attention.