Just a few days ago, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, inaugurated the Nigeria National Steering Committee (NNSC) and Nigeria National Technical Committee (NNTC) for Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3 Nigeria).

GRID3 Nigeria project works across all states in Nigeria to collect accurate, complete and location data relevant to a variety of sectors. It aims to generate, validate and use geospatial data on population, settlements, infrastructure and administrative boundaries. It is about putting everyone on the map with the power of spatial data.

Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, chairs the GRID3 NNSC while Clem Agba, the Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, is the co-chairman.

The GRID3 NNTC is chaired by Yemi Kale, Statistician-General of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), while Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), is the co-chairman.

Osinbajo, while inaugurating the committees, said geospatial data of the scope and depth envisaged by the project was important for Nigeria’s development objectives and ambitions, especially with the issues of education.

“I think it is compelling. Also, there is a great need for this, and this will be extremely useful for planning, and especially to everybody who is involved in the entire development enterprise. I think financial inclusion initiative will also benefit greatly from the GRID3 project,” he said.

Speaking further, the Vice President also said: “I think also there is some ingenuity about having the committees, about having double membership of the committees because that can enable data users and generators to come together and be able to interact at the same time.’’

Osinbajo added that it was worthwhile to mention that the GRID3 would be an open source platform as it would be available to everybody who was interested, especially for research and specialised work.

Ahmed, who was presented the GRID3 goals, said: “It aimed at developing and promoting examples of data usage on health, education, agriculture, and water resources, among others. It supports planned national population and housing census activities and surveys.”

“Develop in-country capacity to maintain and drive GRID3 philosophy in a sustainable manner and to continue to maintain and update the data portal.’’

Speaking on the roles and responsibilities of the NNSC, she said they were to ensure that GRID3 aligns with the national priority agenda (NPA), adding that NNSC would review and approve annual project work plans generated by the NNTC and assess progress in achieving its outcomes, among others.

She listed some responsibilities of NNTC to include developing annual work plans for the NNSC to approve, identifying and prioritising government establishments for impactful GRID3 use-cases among others.

In an overview about GRID3 Nigeria, Agba said that the commitment was to freely provide high quality geospatial data layers. He also said that it was aimed at promoting the utilisation of geospatial data for better decision-making and delivery of interventions.

In a goodwill message, Mr Paul Bassinga, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Nigeria Country Director, said that polio eradication efforts in Nigeria was impressive as it could be declared polio-free by mid-2020.

Also speaking, Christopher Pycroft, Department for International Development (DFID) representative, said that the inauguration of the committees would be a milestone in collaboration between all stakeholders.

GRID3 programme is part of a bigger global initiative which aims to improve access to data for decision making in all participating countries. The GRID3 Nigeria project works across all states in Nigeria to collect accurate, complete, and geospatially referenced data relevant to a variety of sectors.

Launched in March 2018, the initiative aims to facilitate the production, collection, use, and dissemination of high-resolution population, infrastructure and other reference data in support of national sectoral development priorities, humanitarian efforts, and the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Broadly speaking, the benefits of this may include transparency as this may support public oversight of governments and help reduce corruption by enabling greater transparency. For instance, GRID3 Nigeria can make it easier to monitor government activities, such as tracking public budget expenditures and even the impacts.

GRID3 Nigeria is to put paid to the hunting notion that developing countries to whom Nigeria belongs are lagging behind in the adoption of open data at government level, in the overall availability of data, and in the use of open data for transparency and accountability. Nigeria, going forward, would not be missing in the open data barometer, an annual worldwide survey of government commitments, implementation and impact.

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