Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma on Tuesday said federal government is adopting geo-spatial data in solving Nigeria’s developmental challenges.
Udoma, while speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day workshop on Geo-referenced infrastructure and data for development (the GRID), in Abuja, said the potential of geo-spatial data and technology application became evident in Nigeria when it was first uses for polio vaccination effort through GRID project.
“We call on agencies whose focus are on geo-spatial data generation and mapping to help generate data that can help both Government and the private sector in planning more accurately based on established data. This will further help in economic development and help government to achieve the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP)”.
Udoma revealed that after an upsurge in polio cases in 2011, geo-spatial vaccination tracking efforts were put in place, which provided updated settlement maps, population data, and health ward boundaries.
According to him, “ The data collected was integrated into a Vaccine Tracking System that allowed vaccinators to reach every settlement. As a result, polio cases dropped to zero by 2015. This example is a demonstration of the potential of evidence-based decision making and the power of geo-spatial data in providing solutions to development problems”,
He recalled that in 2017 President Muhammadu Buhari launched the ERGP to achieve sustainable development, adding that apart from restoring growth, the ERGP commits the country to the objective of investing in the people and building a globally competitive economy that requires that the capacity of government be continuously enhanced and improved.
“The ERGP recognises that laying the foundations for long term development requires a dynamic, agile private sector that can innovate and respond to global opportunities; and aims to tackle the obstacles hindering the competitiveness of Nigeria, one of which is clearly the dearth of data in a timely and comprehensive manner”.
Government and donor intervention have been found to be critical in providing services that are either common or which the private sector will not find commercially viable to provide; which is why such agencies as the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), under his Ministry, is playing a major role in supplying economic data.
“Geo-spatial data is a specialised area which requires unique expertise. And that is the importance of the GRID3Project”,
While acknowledging the contributions of development partners in the process of seeking better ways to tackle development challenges, he noted also that those assembled in workshop are the key stakeholders required to examine how GRID3 can effectively be deployed to support Nigeria’s development.
“The funding partners include: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development, and the implementing partners are WorldPop/Flowminder, the United Nations Population Fund and Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network”.
“This workshop was designed to develop tools and applications that will aid our MDAs leverage on Geo-referenced data to effectively utilize Nigeria’s resources to deliver economic development; develop modalities that ensure effective collection, storage, retrieval and analysis of the data as a timely input for Government policies and decisions
“ They ensure that the right stakeholders including Academicians, CSOs and Private sector have timely access to appropriate data, to aid collective participation in National development; and finally develop a strategy to build the Capacity of various levels of government to effectively collect and use geo-referenced data for the development of various sectors and society”, he said.
Cynthia Egboboh Abuja.