Nigeria on Wednesday inaugurated the Steering and Technical Committees of the Geo-Referencing Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development, GRID3, to generate, validated and use geo-spatial data for developmental projects.
The GRID is a programme that provides a unique package of open access data generation, application support, and training with the aim of strengthening the foundation on which sustainable evidence-based development and humanitarian decision making is based.
Geo-spatial data generated by the GRID 3 is used in population, settlements, infrastructure and administrative boundaries.
The GRID 3 Project, which is currently supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development, DFID, operates in five African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan and Zambia.
Speaking at the inauguration, Vice President Osinbajo said that “geo-spatial data of the scope and depth that is envisaged for this project is obviously important for all of our development objectives and all of our development ambitions.
“I think it is compelling and really does show that there is a great need for us and this will extremely good for us in planning and extremely good for anyone who is involved in the entire development enterprise.”
Professor Osinbajo noted that Nigeria’s financial inclusion initiatives will also benefit greatly from the GRID 3 Project.
Commending the ingenuity of the Nigeria GRID 3 project in having two committees, the vice president said that it would enable “data users and generators to come together and be able to interact at the same time.”
He pointed out the need for the governors of states in Nigeria to more involved, even across the geo-political zones, in the project, saying that in most of the human capacity development issues and initiatives the sub-nationals are the most crucial.
“As a matter of fact they are the ones that drive the initiatives. So, we must have them at the table if this is going to be as effective as we want it to be.”
Explaining the goals and responsibilities of the committees on the short and medium terms, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said that it would hold workshops and facilitate implementation of the project at the sub-national levels; establish data portal and build capacity for its maintenance, update and use; form steering committees to coordinate and oversee GRID 3 Nigeria; develop up a national Spatial Data Infrastructure, SDI, plan.
On the long-term goals, Mrs. Ahmed said the committees would also work to achieve consensus on boundary delineations at ward and local government levels; develop and promote data usage on health, education, agriculture and water resources; and support planned population and housing census activities and surveys.
In his goodwill message came from the Country Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Paul Basanga, expressed hope that Nigeria would successfully eradicate the wide polio virus by the middle of next year.
Mr. Basanga said that the GRID programme started many years ago as a polio initiative and that the National Healthcare Development Agency piloted the initiative to make sure that every child would be reached by the vaccine.
“After that, this is one of the transitions that have really been impactful in terms of moving from owning polio to routine immunization to strengthening primary healthcare and to go even beyond to move into the Ministry of Budget and Plannning and now the Ministry of Finance altogether.
“It has been a successful example of ownership and institutionalization of decent practice. The Minister of Budget and National Planning mentioned that GRID is now in five countries.
“But we just remember that it started in Nigeria. So, those countries are really learning from Nigeria and I don’t think any of those countries has the type of use-case scenario that the team is driving in Nigeria.”