Udoma Harps on Usefulness of Geospatial Data in National Development

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Udoma Udo Udoma

Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, yesterday emphasised the potential of evidence-based decision-making and the power of geospatial data in providing solutions to developmental problems.

He therefore, called on agencies whose focus are on geospatial 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, he said, will further help in economic development and help government to achieve the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

The Media Adviser to the Minister, James Akpandem, quoted Udoma as stating this in his remarks at the opening of a two-day workshop on Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Data for Development (the GRID3) Use Case, in Abuja.

He said that the potentials of geospatial data and technology applications became evident in Nigeria when it was first used for polio vaccination efforts through the GRID3 Project.

According to him, after an upsurge in polio cases in 2011, geospatial vaccination tracking efforts were put in place, which provided updated settlement maps, population data, and health ward boundaries.

“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 geospatial data in providing solutions to development problems”, the Minister added.

Following that success, he stated that it became obvious that geospatial data could also be useful in other areas of government concerns such as health, education, agriculture, water resources and infrastructural development.

The minister said in order to develop this further,
the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, working in collaboration with relevant development partners, established the Nigeria GRID3 secretariat and initiated consultations with stakeholders.

He recalled that in 2017 President Muhammadu Buhari launched the ERGP as a means of taking Nigeria out of recession and placing it back, not just on the path of growth, but a growth that is diversified, inclusive and sustainable.

According to him, “So, what the ERGP seeks to achieve is sustainable development. Apart from restoring growth, the ERGP commits the country to the objective of investing in our people and building a globally competitive economy. This requires that the capacity of government be continuously enhanced and improved.”

The ERGP, he pointed out, 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.

He was on the view that government and donor intervention can 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.

“Geospatial data is a specialised area which requires unique expertise. And that is the importance of the GRID3 Project,” he added.

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.