NITDA: Forum wants Directorate for Open Data in Nigeria

Crosss section of stakeholder at the meeting

The Federal Government has been asked to create a Directorate for Open Data in Nigeria.

This is one of the highlights of a stakeholder meeting held recently in Port Harcourt that observed that  data must be made available and open for easy access and usage, “as this is a prerequisite for the nation to develop in line with national planning.”

According to the forum, the Open Data Initiative, a policy guideline being proposed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA),  the nation’s IT implementing agency, is imperative for socio-economic development of Nigeria.

NITDA should come up with principles that would encourage openness of data and also establish guiding principles to Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, for global best practices in data collation and usage, the forum resolved.

Dr Vincent Olatunji, Acting Director General of NITDA, who was represented at the forum by Barrister Lazarus, Director, Standards, Guidelines and Regulations at NITDA says that lack of data in Nigeria is hindering the development of the country.

Dr Vincent Olatunji Ag. Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) speaks recently at the ISPON Dinner in Lagos

Citing an example of the effect of insurgency in the country, he said that lack of data has made it difficult for the country to actually know the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria.

He says that, “the issue of open data has drawn so much interest in the international community and Nigeria as a country cannot afford to lag behind” adding that it was because of this that the agency attached so much premium to Open Data.

The world is drifting toward open data and many organizations like Open Data for Development sprang up to support open data initiatives, he adds assuring that NITDA would partner with these organizations to derive maximum benefits for open data in Nigeria. The Agency has since 2013 begun preparation to make Nigeria one of the countries with the initiative, he says.

The Africa Open Data Conference which held in 2015 earmarked some funds as seed support to empower Africa emerging Open Data entrepreneurs-the funds are to improve on data collation in order to achieve sustainable development goals, the NITDA says.

While acknowledging the role of standard, guideline and regulations to the success of harnessing the benefit of ICT, Olatunji adds that NITDA plans to begin enforcement of the guidelines it has published in the past,

“We are not going to stop at publishing the standards but shall go all out to enforce it”, he says adding that, “we shall work with the relevant government agencies to secure their support.”

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