The director-general of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Dr Halilu Shaba has said the time has come for Nigeria to harmonise and unify the various operational boundaries to ensure interoperability and removal of wastages in generation of similar datasets.
He spoke at the opening of a three-day stakeholders’ workshop on the Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) Ward Boundary Validation and National Geospatial Data Infrastructure (NGDI) Bill Review in Abuja saying good governance could only be realised with properly securing the nation’s boundaries.
“This workshop is aimed at removing the duplicity through consensus building amongst stakeholders to assess the available operational boundaries, datasets and agree on the fourth layer leading to policy formulation which the implementation will have direct impacts on citizens,” the NASRDA boss stated.
He urged the stakeholders to consider and agree on the draft of the NGDI bill which he said was overdue for legislative procedures.
In his speech on the occasion, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu underscored the need to develop geospatial technology to make for operational efficiency and good governance in the country.
Geospatial technology is a term used to describe the range of modern tools contributing to the geographic mapping and analysis of the Earth and human societies.
Describing geospatial technology as the bedrock of many technologies, Onu said the workshop would strengthen the National Geo-information Policy and the critical components of the country’s soft infrastructure embedded in geospatial technology.
“The ward boundaries and the NGDI are very useful in achieving operational efficiency and good governance in elections, population census, boundaries, social investment programme and also the COVID-19 Geospatial tracking systems.
“It is important to note that the GRID3 project would help improve effective coordination in the collection and management of data in our dear nation. This will ensure that Nigerians benefit from an evidence based response, result distribution and data driven policy making,” he said.
Onu equally tasked NASRDA to deploy its satellite assets in helping the nation address insecurity problems, saying the country needs conducive environment where citizens can travel safely, live peacefully and where jobs can be created for young people.
On the occasion, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clem Agba decried that there were still challenges in harmonising the boundaries, resulting to the use of paper maps which prevent use of standard boundary files across different locations.
Saying the federal, state, local government areas, ward boundaries and the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) had been recognised as vital entities to national development, he pointed out that updated harmonised boundaries would inform emergency operations, routine operations, planning and statistical Infrastructure.
He explained that GRID3 programme was collaborating with government agencies and relevant stakeholders to harmonise boundaries which would facilitate the implementation of the Medium Term National Development Plan 2021 to 2025 and the Nigeria Agenda 2050, adding the GRID3 database already had 1,247 datasets across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT and in 12 sectors which include agriculture, education, energy, security among others.
“Nigeria had already started getting the benefit of this programme, the GRID3 Nigeria operational ward boundaries have significantly contributed to the polio eradication in Nigeria.
“Geo-Information System-based (GIS) maps helped health workers develop effective micro plans at ward level to visit every settlement and reach target populations.
“The GRID3 project has produced 774 LGA GIS-based maps for the National Primary Health Care Development Agency to support the COVID-19 vaccination across the country.
“This is also in line with the project’s plan to roll out its support to routine immunisation by accurately delineating health facility catchment areas and ensure no child is missing on the map,” he said.
The chairman, project implementation team of GRID3, Dr Matthew Adepoju, in his remarks, said a resolution of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on NGDI, informed the review of the draft bill.
“This is a critical infrastructure that Nigeria needs for policy formulation and project implementation,” he stated.
GRID3 which was launched in March 2018 aims to facilitate the production, collection, use, and dissemination of high-resolution population as well as increase access to data for use by decision makers, donors, non-profit organisations and private sector partners in the country.