By Emma Okonji
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications, Mr. Musa Istifanus, has said open data will enhance transparency in governance and help mobilise citizens to participate in governance positively.
He stated this during the Nigeria Open Data Conference for the North-west zone, with the theme, ‘Harnessing Public Data Assets for Economic Recovery and Growth’, organised by the Ministry of Communications in Kano State recently.
The Permanent Secretary explained that the ministry has developed a draft Open Data Policy and Action Plan that would enhance the release of certain data assets across different categories of economic sectors in the country.
According to him, “Open data is an integral part of the global data revolution. It is a programme through which countries manage their data assets as a national resource to create an innovative economy for jobs, service delivery and to promote economic growth. This, they do by making available, through online platform non-sensitive data to citizens and other stakeholders in reusable, machine readable formats for planning and economic decisions making.”
He said in view of the dwindling revenues from oil and gas accruing to the nation, there was need for alternative revenue base for achieving the main policy thrusts of government and that open data initiative would offer this new opportunity.
Istifanus, stated that his ministry, in its efforts towards promoting open data economy, started holding stakeholders’ sensitisation workshops and established the Open Data Working Group saddled with the responsibility of primary governance of this new initiative.
“Our efforts so far have yielded some results as many data companies and civil society groups are keying into the Open Data ecosystem and urged stakeholders present to join the ministry in validating the draft Open Data Policy and Action Plan,” he said.
In his presentation at the conference, the Managing Consultant, PacePact Consulting Limited, Mr. John Eweama, stated that data must be in open format to enable citizens access and utilise the information for innovation.
In her contribution, Chindima IIechukwu from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, said Open Government Partnership (OGP) provides opportunity for government and citizens to jointly make policy for the good of the nation.
he added that the key component of the OGP are access to information, anti-corruption, citizen’s engagement and transparency, which would enable citizens to subject government policy to public scrutiny.
The Director of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Ahmed Musa Jubril, who represented the Kano State Commissioner, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, said the initiative would open up non-sensitive public data assets to promote a new ICT- powered data industry.
He added that open data operations would help to reduce poverty through employment creation as well as attract investment to the economy of the nation.