Data science academy rebrands as it grows

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 13 Oct 2022
Shaun Dippnall, CEO and co-founder of ExploreAI Academy.
Shaun Dippnall, CEO and co-founder of ExploreAI Academy.

Data science institution Explore Data Science Academy has progressed from training 100 data scientists annually, to now training 1 000 – with ambitions to increase this number, in response to the soaring demand for data scientists in South Africa.

Billed as Africa’s largest data science academy, the institution, which was founded in SA in 2017, teaches students how to solve real-world problems using the latest data science technologies.

In its latest move, the academy is rebranding to ExploreAI Academy (EA), and has further expanded its business unit, ExploreAI (EAI), across Europe, the US and further into Africa.

Having trained over 3 000 students since inception, the academy has set new targets for the future – aspiring to train 10 000 students a year by 2025, and in the long-term, 50 000 students annually.

With an increasing number of student applications for its 2023 programme, the academy says it is on track to meet this goal.

The academy offers students courses online on either a part-time or full-time basis.

SA is experiencing a huge shortage of data scientists. The 2022 JCSE-IITPSA ICT Skills Survey found growing demand for fourth industrial revolution skills, particularly in areas such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, along with developers and cyber security specialists.

Shaun Dippnall, group chairman and head of ExploreAI Academy, explains: “Data science is emerging as a critical success factor in virtually any business or organisation.

“Companies are investing in cloud tools and skills, and are moving to be artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled and insights-led. There are multiple opportunities for companies to partner with ExploreAI in terms of learnerships, training and development, skills transfer, as well as consulting.

“The opportunities exist across many industries, including retail, mining, media, banking, financial services and logistics.”

ExploreAI Academy has partnered with over 25 companies that sponsor students and later on-board them into their own organisations.

The data science academy receives in excess of 20 000 applications per annum, from SA and the rest of the continent, according to Dippnall.

As to consulting firm EAI’s endeavours, the company recently appointed a new UK-based CEO – Has Dosanjh, who is a seasoned executive in digital transformation and data collaboration applications.

EAI’s international projects include using data science and AI in telecommunications, insurance, waste and water utility management.

Commenting on his appointment, Dosanjh says: “I love taking organisations through complex transformations that involve the use of data, digital assets and new ways of working. The CEO in me measures success by customer satisfaction and profits.”

Over 40 EAI staff members are graduates of the academy. The company says it has been able to leverage the country’s need to grow its data science skills base through ExploreAI Academy, while attracting international projects.

Dippnall adds: “Has’s appointment comes at an appropriate time. He has a proven track record of implementing growth strategies, building strong and diverse teams, and creating value for stakeholders.

“We are immensely proud of our progress as a business. After starting from my home in Cape Town, we are now an international company based in London, that employs over 180 highly-qualified and talented individuals, and which has doubled revenues annually for the last five years.”