Nigeria: 'Robust Data Mining Will Develop Nigeria's Digital Economy'

30 July 2020

Information and communications technology (ICT) experts have stressed the need for robust and accurate data mining and usage in the private and public sectors of the Nigerian economy, in order to facilitate development in the country's digital economy drive.

Data mining is a process used by companies to turn raw data into useful information, through data analytics.

President of the Association Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola, said Nigeria must adopt technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to drive data analytics that would result in robust and accurate data that would guide decision-making in businesses and governance.

Teniola, told THISDAY that the fastest way to achieve digital economy goals, was for Nigeria to develop static and dynamic data that would help in data verification and identity, adding that data not verifiable could pose threat to identity management.

"Many Nigerians have several mobile devices and Nigeria needs location data to verify static data information of people as well as dynamic data of people in order to match data subscriptions with data subscribers for the purpose of identifying individuals with criminal tendencies, aside using the data for business decision making," Teniola said.

President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Dr. Yele Okeremi, told THISDAY that data sovereignty and control, remained key factors that Nigeria must consider when it comes to data generation and usage.

"Nigerians generate a lot of data every day in different ways but do not have control of their data. Most of Nigerian data are in the hands of foreigners and we need to have robust platforms where we can control the data we generate for the purpose of informed decision-making. "Access to data is key because it is only those that have access to data that can plan and make informed decision. Data generation is therefore important, but more importantly is data control, data monetisation and data kinetics for informed decision-making," Okeremi said.

The ICT experts were responding to the views of the Statistician-General of the Federation and CEO of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Dr. Yemi Kale, who spoke during a recent webinar, organised by NBS in collaboration with Softcom Limited, a technology company.

At the webinar, Kale said the twin shocks of the health and economic crisis coming amidst historically low oil prices, would provide a unique opportunity to develop frameworks that solidify better use of data to drive Nigeria's response to the new global challenges.

The Statistician-General of the Federation highlighted the importance of data generation, data mining and the use of data for economic development.

According to him, "Data aids the decision- making process by enabling us to establish numerical benchmarks and monitor and evaluate the progress of policies or programmes, thus ensuring that our policy interventions are well designed.

"Without data, we cannot make well-informed decisions that will catalyse our socio-economic development and transform the future of generations. It is when we are able to collate, understand and interpret data correctly, as well as identify key areas in our society or our economy that require change, that the policy prescriptions and direction of our governments and businesses are more likely to respond to the real needs of our communities."

Speaking about the usefulness of data, Kale said: "Our recent longitudinal study on the Impact of Covid-19, undertaken in collaboration with the World Bank, can help policymakers to track the dynamics of the pandemic and design targeted responses."

He however said despite the ability to impact on the process of good governance, "our data production architecture still faces some challenges. For instance, we still need to address the resistance to data sharing internally, which is reinforced by the realisation that with transparency comes accountability, or the common misconception that sharing data means the loss of ownership or visibility as it relates to the information being shared."

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