Minister: Nigeria to ‘enforce adoption of open data policy’

Minister: Nigeria to ‘enforce adoption of open data policy’

Minister: Nigeria to ‘enforce adoption of open data policy’

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The Federal Government of Nigeria plans to enforce the adoption of open data policy to drive innovation, investment and economic growth in the country.

Barrister Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications indicated the policy thrust Tuesday while delivering the keynote address at the eNigeria conference underway in Abuja, the nation’s seat of power.

According to the Minister, government want to adopt open data policy to reduce the cost of governance and improve service delivery in Nigeria.

The open data initiative is a consultative and inclusive process hoped to open up high value datasets from across government ministries to Nigerian citizens, businesses and the rest of the world, for free.

”Data has become the currency of a knowledge based economy, driving innovation and boosting businesses at various levels, and must be protected at all cost. As we prepare for knowledge based economy the need to protect  data cannot be over emphasised”, Shittu tells the eNigeria 2016 attendees.

Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications
Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications

According to the Minister, ”the Ministry of Communication in conjunction with National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) will be ensuring all tiers of government in Nigeria consider the adoption of the open data policy as a means of creating jobs making data available for policy formulation and decision making.”

The Nigeria Federal Open Data Initiative,  supported by the World Bank and DFID aims to highlight the potential efficiency, innovations and public value that can be achieved when government uses technology to open its data. Over 50 countries have launched Federal-level Open Data initiatives.

Technology Times review of analysis by global consulting firm, McKinsey indicates that Open Data generates more than $3 trillion of new economic value for the U.S. economy alone. Also the weather data of the U.S. is worth $30 billion annually, while the total worth of Global Positioning System GPS data is worth $90 billion.

”Data has become the currency of a knowledge based economy, driving innovation and boosting businesses at various levels, and must be protected at all cost. As we prepare for knowledge based economy the need to protect  data cannot be over emphasised”, Shittu tells the eNigeria 2016 attendees.

According to the NITDA DG, “Nigeria loses approximately $2.8 billion annually from the importation of ICT goods and services, including a whopping $1 billion spent annually on software imports. Locally manufactured or assembled computers represent less than 8% of all the computers used in the country.

Import dependent: Business activities underway at Ikeja Computer Village, Nigeria's biggest technology market.
Business activities underway at Ikeja Computer Village, Nigeria’s biggest technology market.

According to him, ”the ITU’s growth of enabling and fostering access to and increased use of telecommunication and ICTs resonate with the Ministry of Communication to build a more inclusive society as envisage in the broadband master plan , ICT strategic roadmap and government initiative.”

Commenting on the present economic recession, the Minister says that ”the present economic challenges and the dwindling revenue from oil sector spur national alternative to diversifying the economy for sustainable development. There is no such better alternative information communication technology which recorded tremendous growth and contributed  12.62% to normal GDP and 12.68% to total real GDP in second quarter of 2016 according to National Bureau of Statistics.”

Earlier in his remarks, Dr Ali Ibrahim Pantami Director General of NITDA says the IT implementing agency  will collaborate with industry leaders to put policies in place in supporting  young Nigerians to develop world-class ICT products.

”We will collaborate with industry leaders and put policies in place to support young Nigerians to develop world-class ICT products.”

According to the NITDA DG, “Nigeria loses approximately $2.8 billion annually from the importation of ICT goods and services, including a whopping $1 billion spent annually on software imports. Locally manufactured or assembled computers represent less than 8% of all the computers used in the country.

”Similarly, Nigeria is projected to expend about $143.8 billion on ICT by 2019- a vast sum that translates to over 7 times the value of the 2016 national budget. We strongly plead with our international manufacturers to domesticate their products in order to achieve a win-win relationship.”

The chief of Nigeria’s IT implementing agency says that ”within the limits of the mandate that set us up, we at NITDA are repositioning ourselves to filter the IT gadgets being imported to the country in the overall interest of the nation. We want to transform NITDA from its administrative outlook to IT-driven and knowledge-based agency, and we request the support of all to materialise this aspiration.”

”Similarly, Nigeria is projected to expend about $143.8 billion on ICT by 2019- a vast sum that translates to over 7 times the value of the 2016 national budget. We strongly plead with our international manufacturers to domesticate their products in order to achieve a win-win relationship.”

Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, new DG of NITDA
Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, new DG of NITDA

The NITDA boss reckons that there  is tremendous gain to be made from a Local Content Policy that encourages the development of local ICT products and services. ”Among other things, it will significantly reduce capital flight.”

Pantami observes that, ”President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, rightly pointed this out at the 2016 Nigerian Economic Summit Group meeting, where he stated that, ‘Economic growth is impossible without a focus on made in Nigeria.”’

According to Pantami, ”in addition to the emphasis that NITDA will lay on regulation, local content development and capacity building, we are making concerted efforts to create, as well as review, existing standards and guidelines.”

For the NITDA DG, ”this will enable us to regulate the sector in line with the highest global standards. We are committed to ensuring that the proliferation of fake and sub-standard ICT products and services in the country is eliminated or at least significantly curtailed.”

 

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Kolade Akinola Technology Journalist at Technology Times Mobile: + 234 (0) 807 401 6027

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