Connect with us


Data-driven Economy in Nigeria: Perspective, Orientation and Opportunities



Timi Olubiyi Data-driven Economy

By Timi Olubiyi, PhD

In most African countries like Nigeria, individuals are typically born, grow, live through adulthood, retire, aged, and die without the government’s knowing or being aware of their existence.

This happens more in the remote villages and more within the informal sector and within the unbanked population.

Noticeably, due to lack of political will, successive governments and heads of nations in these African countries have ignored the lingering need for a data management system to improve the political, societal, and economic development landscape.

Big data analytics has been the technology drive that many nations of the world are adopting for improved governance, Africa should not be an exception.

A clear instance in recent time was in Nigeria, the biggest economy in Africa, where millions of the citizens were expectant on palliative care from the government but due to logistics and lack of national data bank, it was difficult to achieve a seamless reach to the citizenries.

The distribution could have been more effective with an efficient database and social welfare systems instead of the eventual looting of the stored palliative items that ensued. Social welfare protection is key to provide citizens with an economic safety net during periods of illness, and economic hardship.

Records indicated that the social welfare system in the form of insurance and assistance programmes to the public emerged in Europe in the 1800s to majorly support the vulnerable and it has been driven largely by adequate data management.

This is the 21st century, yet Africa is still struggling with a data-driven economy. It is significant to state that most of the major decision-making or policies in western countries from the USA, Canada, Australia, and most European countries, these days are largely data-driven.

For instance, the Canadian government announced COVID-19 aid in the form of a one-time payment of up to $500 for eligible seniors to offset any increased living expenses they have incurred as a result of the pandemic.

In the same vein, such government supports and economic stimuli are applicable in the USA and the UK to save jobs, businesses and to minimize the economic impacts of the pandemic.

In Africa, it has been a difficult task and the issue has been mainly due to the lack of adequate citizen information, thereby increasing economic hardship and poverty.

Consequently, a national database is vital, it would provide insights into population demographics, unemployment rate, age distributions, births, deaths, mortality, marriages, and infrastructure gaps.

It can also help in developing the right targeted policies to fix or alleviate social issues such as corruption, inequality between the wealthy and poor, level of education and rate of unemployment among others.

Under international human rights law, Nigeria’s government has an obligation to protect people’s rights and to ensure a meaningful standard of living, including adequate food and nutrition, the highest attainable standard of health, and the right to social security.

To conveniently achieve this all-important mission, agreeably a national database is required.

In addition, to address the obligations especially the unemployment rate distribution across the country especially can be addressed, the national database is key and can help in a lot of national planning.

The process of capturing and storing citizen information backed with a data protection bill in the National Assemblies is highly desirable and seemingly necessary, particularly in Nigeria.

This national database can be used for so many verifiable and evidence-based statistics, evaluations, and a lot of inferences can be derived from it.

At this point, post-COVID-19 has presented an opportunity, which is the creation of a national database in these African countries. It is highly desirable and the benefits outweigh the costs meaningfully.

When a national database is in place it can be accessed, analysed and contact tracing can be made a lot easier. Agreeably, it can help in a variety of other ways, such as public service improvement, designing of policies, public health development, public safety, national security, national development, and poverty reduction.

It can also help in developing empirically-proven techniques for fostering human and capital development. No nation attains sustainable economic growth without developing a national database necessary to drive such growth. The national database methodology is a less expensive option to performing a physical census because it is a register-based census.

So far, the year 2020 has been filled with disruptions due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Despite COVID-19 being a health issue, has continued to have a high-impact and severity on the economy, business, and lifestyle globally.

It continues to reshape the ways of doing things and high disruptions across the remains across all sectors and countries.

For a developing country like Nigeria and as obtainable in most African countries, the disruption level is higher, stern with fragile economies across the continent.

The majority of the African populace lacks a reliable social welfare system; therefore, the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 has been more severe on the continent.

It is, therefore, recommended that concrete policy adoption be considered for the management of national emergencies, humanitarian responses, reduction of the impact of the current pandemic, and the attendant looming economic recession.

Returning to business of lack of a strong data management culture and lack of sound data for governance Post COVID-19 will only further retrogress the continent’s development and living of the over 1.2 billion population. In fact, solutions to social and economic problems are often inseparable from the data

Broadly speaking with COVID-19, the number of incidences keeps increasing, consequently, flattening the curve or having a drop in the reported cases is still a mirage at least for now mainly because of lack of effective data-driven decisions.

Therefore, measures to preserve the livelihoods of workers and businesses and ensure they get by conveniently during this period are vital. This is supported by the World Bank’s stipulation in their 2005 report, which recommends that countries should design, finance, and deliver social welfare accordingly with a data management system.

The methodology to adopt as part of the post-COVID-19 recovery policy and national development is for the countries to introduce a data-driven economy and effective national data management platform. In my opinion, data is a developmental infrastructure that can provide critical insights into the trend of human actions, practices, behaviours, and social impacts.

The government cannot improve on school infrastructures without adequately knowing how many children need to be enrolled. Therefore, when citizen data management is properly earnest, it holds tremendous potential to stimulate economic growth and measurable development.

In light of the many African nation’s desire for accelerated economic growth particularly Nigeria, a national database is necessary as part of the post-COVID-19 policy priority.

Nevertheless, if it is open, integrated, unified, and harmonized amongst all the tires of government it will be an enabler for transparency and accountability, as well as reduce crime and criminality in Africa.

A low number of African countries including South Africa, Namibia, Mauritius, and Lesotho have some form of social package much can still be achieved in education and health which are two widely acclaimed barometers used to measure economic growth.

The citizenry should be catered for especially the vulnerable, through an adequate social welfare system. The COVID-19 experience exposed this inadequacy in Africa and this can be corrected easily by initiating and achieving an acceptable national database in each country.

From adequately capturing birth registration, education enrolments, adulthood, citizens in diaspora, retirees, to the closure by death registration, the citizenry must be known, captured, and catered for adequately in Africa.

Nonetheless, the COVID-19 relief programs across Africa just go to show how far behind the continent is with the data-driven economy and national database development, especially in Nigeria. The vast majority of people in Africa are most vulnerable according to context observation, and many of the countries are still grappling to protect their citizens from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That said, the fertility rate in Nigeria is very high with a population forecast of 400m by 2050 according to reliable data from Worldometer.

Tackling poverty in the land and reducing the high rate of unemployment has only received low attention by the successive government based on historical trends. With a national database in place, enactment of specific, and targeted policies to improve the lives of its citizens and its economy can be easily achieved.

Recall, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development in Nigeria, Ms Sadiya Farouq, expressed recently that her Ministry was tasked with the responsibility to address some of the underlying causes, drivers, and consequences of humanitarian crises and underdevelopment including COVID-19 impact management in the country.

She said this included the management of the relatively high level of poverty nearly half (90 million) of the country’s 200 million population.

Further to this, the President of the country, Rtd General Muhammadu Buhari, directed the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry to also develop a strategy to maintain the school feeding social program during the lockdown.

These tasks have been difficult to achieve in Nigeria, especially with identifying and reaching out to the very vulnerable citizens amongst the over 200m populace.

One of the significant reasons has been due to the high variety of datasets and the lack of a reliable, verifiable, harmonized, and efficient national database.

In Nigeria, many government institutions and agencies generate populace personal data daily. This includes: (i). Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), responsible for drivers’ license and vehicle number plates; (ii). Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), responsible for voters registration exercise; (iii). National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), responsible for the production of national official statistics; (iv). National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), which is responsible for the national identity database; (v). National Population Commission (NPC), in charge of national demographic data; (vi). Other organizations including the banks in the financial sector and telecommunication companies in the telecommunication sector such as MTN, 9mobile, Globacom, Airtel, etc.

Most of the data collected by these agencies are structured in nature but the big issue is that the data remain unharmonized with no centralized platform. Citizens are made to provide the same information at different times to different agencies causing lots of time wastages and duplications.

Though according to records, the existing Bank Verification Number (BVN) database in Nigeria has captured just about 25 per cent of the population, which are largely citizens with bank accounts, leaving a large chunk of the population who are unbanked.

Besides, only 42 million of the 200 million population are also captured in the country’s National Identity Database, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), according to the Director-General of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz.

The DG further asserts that the enrolment of people into the National identity Database, the commission was only able to successfully harmonize 14 million BVNs with National Identity Numbers (NIN) nationwide.

Consequently, a broader, consolidated, and harmonized national data management platform is necessary, which should be in line with the global best practice of data management devoid of any preference. Such a national database can also benefit from periodic reviews and research to guarantee relevance, reliability, and utility at any time.

Significant to note, most of the development and decisions in the world economies are data-driven, the pandemic has presented an opportunity to the public sectors in Africa and Nigeria, in particular, to embrace technology and data management system to aid national planning effectively.

With no enough infrastructures to manage the level of population growth in Africa, the infrastructures are likely to be overstretched without a reliable data-driven decision-making system, projections, and technological development.

The effect of the lack of this key decision-making tool is unimaginable, and the continued suffering of the majority of the population in Africa is likely to continue without it. Hence, with a good grasp of the relevant citizen data, demographics, and information, governments in Africa will be in an excellent position to drive a digital economy, achieve citizen engagements easily and also formulate enabling developmental policies that will improve e-govenance. They will also be able to measure the impact of these policies and also get aids when required from agencies like The World Bank (WB), The UK Department for International Development (DFID), The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Trade Organization (WTO), World Health Organization (WHO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nation(UN) and its agencies among others.

The  Nigerian government and other African governments need to consider the establishment of a specialized agency “Big Data Management Authority” saddled with the responsibility of implementing the framework discussed in this piece and much more. Good luck!

How may you obtain advice or further information on the article?

Dr Timi Olubiyi is an Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management expert with a PhD in Business Administration. He is a prolific investment coach, business engineer, Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), and a financial literacy specialist. He can be reached on the Twitter handle @drtimiolubiyi and via email:, for any questions, reactions, and comments.


6 Ways Google and YouTube Can Help You Celebrate Ramadan



help you celebrate Ramadan

Ramadan is a holy month that is observed by Muslims all around the world. It is a time for reflection, prayer, and community. With the help of Google and YouTube, celebrating Ramadan has become even easier and more enjoyable.

From Lagos to Nairobi, Accra to Johannesburg, Africans can access a wealth of information and resources to make the most of this special time. Here are 6 ways that Google and YouTube can help you celebrate Ramadan in Africa:

  1. Celebrate Ramadan’s Joy with Colors and Greetings: Simply search for “Ramadan 2023” in your language on Google, and you will have access to all the information related to this month, including prayer times, recipes, and more. You can also find articles on Ramadan etiquette, Ramadan recipes, and Ramadan greetings to help you navigate the holiday with ease. Additionally, you can access greeting cards online to share with your loved ones, and scroll through our Ramadan colouring book on Google Arts & Culture to engage your inner artist and colour beautiful artwork to share with family and friends.

  1. Set Reminders for Prayer Times with Google Assistant: With Google Assistant, you can set reminders for prayer times throughout the day, making it easier to stay on track during Ramadan. Simply ask Google Assistant to set a reminder for the next prayer time, and you’ll receive a notification when it’s time to pray. You can customise the reminders to fit your schedule so you never miss a prayer. Plus, Google Assistant can provide inspirational quotes and spiritual guidance to help you stay focused and connected during the holy month.

  2. Shop What You See with Google Lens: By using the camera on your phone, you can search for a delicious type of dessert you’ve tried at your friend’s house, or find your next favourite decoration item to buy during Ramadan. You can open the Google app on your phone, tap on the camera icon, and use Google Lens to snap a photo or screenshot. With Google Lens, you can easily find exact or similar results to shop from or explore for inspiration.

  1. Watch Ramadan-related videos on YouTube: YouTube is a great resource for learning more about Ramadan. You can find videos on how to prepare traditional foods, tips for fasting, and spiritual practices related to Ramadan. There are also numerous Ramadan vlogs and Ramadan routines videos, where you can follow along with the daily activities and experiences of content creators during the holy month.

  1. Use Google Maps to Find Local Mosques and Halal Restaurants: Google Maps is a valuable tool for finding local mosques and halal restaurants during Ramadan. You can search for mosques in your area or around you and get directions to join in community prayers. You can also search for halal restaurants near you to break your fast with delicious and authentic cuisine. Additionally, Google Maps can help you navigate through unfamiliar areas when you are travelling to different cities or countries during Ramadan. With Google Maps, you can plan your Ramadan activities and explore new places with ease. Plus, you can read reviews and ratings from other users to help you make informed decisions about where to go.

  1. Browse Our Shopping Guide for Inspiration: To help you prepare for Ramadan, Google has created a Ramadan Shopping Guide that collects trending products helpful during the holiday. When we analysed search and shopping trends, we found common themes related to home decoration, like Ramadan lanterns, which grew 20% year over year. You can browse through the guide for inspiration and find new ideas for decorating your home, preparing for Iftar, or giving gifts to your loved ones during the holiday.

We hope this Ramadan brings you and your loved ones joy — and that these tools help you find the information you need to make the most of this special time of the year.

Continue Reading


Flexible Power Technologies Will Make Africa’s Energy Leapfrogging a Reality



flexible power technologies

By Marc Thiriet

Africa’s ability to leapfrog traditional power systems and adopt renewables on a massive scale is not a fantasy. In-depth studies from Wärtsilä have demonstrated that with the adequate support of flexible power technologies, ambitious renewable energy objectives in Africa are not only achievable, but they also represent the soundest and cheapest strategy for the successful electrification of the continent.

A new power generation paradigm perfectly suited for Africa

There has been much discussion about Africa’s ability to ‘leapfrog’ the way power systems have been built in the western world. For over a century, traditional power systems have been based on centralised power generation, with a limited number of large thermal power plants providing baseload electricity through a massive transmission network. This way of generating power is, however, coming to an end: the climate emergency is calling for a 180-degree paradigm shift in which renewables replace thermal power plants as the baseload source of energy.

This new power generation paradigm is, in many ways, a perfect fit for Africa. The continent enjoys some of the highest wind and solar energy resources on the planet, which means that the renewable energy plants built here boast some of the best productivity rates in the world. Almost anywhere in Africa, renewables are the cheapest power generation option available today by a significant margin.

Although relatively ambitious renewable energy targets have been set by most governments across the continent, there is still widespread scepticism that renewable energy, which is intermittent by nature, can provide a reliable source of baseload power. This scepticism is unjustified. With the appropriate deployment of grid balancing technologies like gas engine power plants or energy storage, huge amounts of renewable energy can be built into the system while at the same time ensuring a stable and reliable network. Energy experts at Wärtsilä, who have built 76 GW of power plant capacity in 180 countries around the world, certainly know a thing or two about that.

Building reliable power systems

Yes, renewables are intermittent, but it’s a challenge that we have long known how to solve, providing the need for flexible power capacity is not underestimated.

As intermittent renewable energy becomes the new baseload, the system will have to cope with a large amount of variable power that can disrupt the grid. Flexible power must therefore be available to ramp up production at the same rate that wind or solar production fluctuates but also to match the fluctuating energy demand within the day. System imbalances can be, at times, huge, but the system will stay safe as long as renewable energy deployment is matched with corresponding levels of flexible power capacity.

Flexible engine power plants are the only technology designed to work hand-in-hand with renewables, as they can efficiently cope with multiple daily starts and stops. They also offer the significant advantage of being able to run on different fuels, from natural gas and heavy fuel oil today to locally produced hydrogen and biofuels tomorrow, as they become competitive and broadly available. Thanks to this muti-fuel capability, not only do engine power plants provide a great hedge against fuel supply risk, but they are also the ultimate “future-proof” technology for energy leapfrogging, as the gas engines can simply be converted to run on green fuels like hydrogen to reach 100% renewables. Engine power plants offer a solid, long-term foundation on which African countries can build modern and resilient clean power systems.

Energy leapfrogging requires a tailormade approach

Delivering on energy leapfrogging is going to be a complex, multi-decade process. Each country in Africa features its own unique mix of natural resources, geographical opportunities and constraints, and population density, alongside a myriad of other parameters. Each country will therefore require its own tailormade and optimal power system expansion plan to accomplish its leapfrogging.

What would such a plan look like in practice? Let’s take Nigeria as an example. Using advanced energy system modelling techniques, Wärtsilä’s analysts have designed a detailed roadmap showing how Nigeria could proceed to build a 100% renewable energy power system and meet its 2060 net-zero targets.

According to our models, by 2060, Nigeria’s power capacity should consist of 1,200 GW of renewable energy and require a total of 283 GW of energy storage and 34 GW of flexible engine power plants for grid balancing purposes. On the other hand, inflexible sources of power like coal, oil or gas turbine power plants have now become the exception rather than the norm.

For this plan to succeed, Nigeria’s domestic gas must still play a crucial transition role: It will be mobilised as an inexpensive bridging fuel for engine power plants in support of intermittent renewable energy generation until these plants can be converted to run purely on green hydrogen in the early 2040s. 

This is the soundest power system from both an environmental and economic standpoint. Our research indeed shows that investing in renewable energy and flexibility from gas engines and energy storage is the most cost-effective way for Nigeria to reduce energy costs, increase energy access and improve grid reliability. For the plan to succeed, however, the country will have to greatly improve its power transmission infrastructure, develop a strong and dependable policy framework, and attract significant investment.

The global shift to renewable energy provides Nigeria and Africa, as a whole, with a unique opportunity to leapfrog the carbon-based power systems that have been the norm in the West. Delivering this opportunity would represent a giant step forward in the country’s development. But an adequate and carefully planned deployment of flexible power technologies to balance the intermittency of renewables is the sine qua non-condition for energy leapfrogging to succeed in Nigeria, as anywhere else on the continent.

Marc Thiriet is the Director for Africa at Wärtsilä Energy

Continue Reading


Misunderstanding the Nigerian Understanding



Misunderstanding the

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

“Misunderstanding the understanding” can refer to a situation where someone fails to comprehend or interpret a concept, idea, or situation correctly, despite believing that they have understood it. This can occur due to various reasons such as cognitive biases, lack of knowledge or experience, miscommunication, cultural differences, or preconceived notions.

For example, imagine a person from one culture trying to understand a complex concept or idea from another culture. Even if they have the best intentions and have studied the concept extensively, they may still misunderstand it due to differences in language, values, or beliefs. This can lead to misinterpretations and miscommunications that can create confusion and misunderstanding.

Another example could be in a professional setting where a manager provides instructions to an employee, but the employee may not fully understand the instructions due to different interpretations or assumptions. The employee may then carry out the task incorrectly, leading to errors and inefficiencies.

In order to avoid “misunderstanding the understanding,” it is important to maintain open communication, clarify concepts and ideas, and be aware of potential biases or assumptions that may affect the interpretation of information. Additionally, seeking feedback and asking questions can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there is a shared understanding of the information at hand.

We cannot do the last paragraph above because elsewhere the police say freeze when they want to arrest you, but in Nigeria, we say ‘hold it’. The people that say hold it is the same people that, by the time you are reading this, would have settled whether Vivor of Lagos is Igbo or Yoruba. They are the same group of people that will remind you that Murtala Muhammed was from Edo or one-time Vice President Sambo is from Agenebode.

If you understand the misunderstanding, one time, an Eboni man was told that he could not be governor in Enugu, the same way Bianca Ojukwu was once told by the family of Ojukwu she could not be a senator in Anambra state.

We are a people that are no different from our politicians, who are dealers rather than leaders, so it is difficult to understand the difference because we are consciously misunderstanding, no Minister’s kid is looking for a job, and no governor’s brother is jobless. No local government chairman has an issue with getting his sister a job.

The political class don’t know that there’s no electricity, because Rimi road, Adeoye crescent, and Mbakwe close all have houses powered by big generators.

While we battle our misunderstanding, the fact is that we don’t understand the pain of a family whose substantial monthly income goes to purchasing cooking oil (kerosene) or gas.

We believe that the earth is chasing us, so where did we put our feet while running? I was once told that the fowl on a journey inside the basket does not know where it will end.

You need to understand the misunderstanding that the Nigerian dream is that you steal much and even more because if you are caught, you need money to settle all the steps of the staircase, police, lawyers, and more. At the court, you seek a restraining order and restrain anybody from arresting or investigating you. You pay a handful to protest that you’re being persecuted because of your faith or creed…do you understand, or are you being misunderstood?

Stealing government money is no big deal; it’s a dream, after all, we have erroneously insisted it is everybody’s money. If you do not want to steal, your people will mock you, in fact, as you aspire, the past records of looting by your predecessor are packaged in phrases such as ‘see the house he built for his mother’, ‘how he buried his father’, and ‘he managed to build us a small clinic too’, ‘it is our turn’, ‘you must put our people in position’, and these are misunderstandings that must be understood.

The Nigerian dream is to have your cough treated in Germany, your kids’ school in heaven knows where, and get all sorts of awards and titles, from the Baba Adini of Adiniland to an honorary degree from a one-storey building college in Maputo, that is after being knighted by one of the numerous churches, countless lesser and higher hajj, and it is all ‘you either understand or you misunderstand’.

The United Kingdom has a Hindu prime minister of Indian descent and a Muslim mayor of London of Pakistani descent. Jeremy Hunt, who is currently Chancellor of the Exchequer, when was foreign secretary, referred to his Chinese wife as Japanese during a visit to Beijing to discuss post-Brexit trade deals between the UK and China. We do not understand that true diversity is about disrupting the status quo, not enforcing it with zeal. In Nigeria, it is a different story.

How do we understand the misunderstanding in Lagos, the Igbo and Yoruba drama, as in the real deal is our dichotomy is not a subject within the shores of this nation that one talks about without understanding; it evokes a lot of passion from the heated arguments which it generates, everyone holding dear to their values, and idiosyncrasies. A lot has been written on old perspectives, likewise, new viewpoints; after the elections, we go back into the cocoon, and the differences remain and are not tackled.

In our misunderstanding, we think of easterners, westerners, northerners, and middle belters, all depending on the turn of events. In our sensationalism, we have, in every sense, approached most problems sectionally, thereby creating all kinds of unnecessary petty-cultural-ethnic-religious-paranoia and bourgeois mentality in dealing with our national issues.

There is an ideology of hatred, one that props up again and again, Lagos in the West, Anambra in the East, North vs South, Muslims vs Christians. This is a factor that reactionary elements within the system use in battling the progressives. The misunderstanding in the understanding, which really borrows a lot from bourgeois theories, which essentially is directed at confusing our intellect, like we try to argue within the parameters of “anti-class theory”, “theory of development”, “take off theory”,, “theory of cooperation”, “theory of external push”, “end of ideology theory”, “convergence theory”, “the theory of the periphery in the periphery”.

Wonderful sociological concepts that do very little to help us shift in the way of progress because only a few theories work for us…” the theory of corruption”, “the theory of bad governance”, “chop I chop theory”, and “killing for god theory”, “WIKE”, “Obi, and Elu Pee theory”, “Balablu theory” and now the “BVAS theory”. Do you understand, or you misunderstood me?

Interestingly and constructively, when we fulfil the Nigerian dream-like stealing, we have no religion, no tribe, and no fights; all is good so long it ends well, we only fight when one attempts to out steal the other. It is the misunderstanding that we do not understand, and we never will until the ordinary Nigerian becomes the focal point, it will almost never work. The dream for a better, strong and virile nation lies in our hands. Sadly, we refuse to understand it and choose to misunderstand the difference, we continue in our wild goose chase till when—only time will tell.

Continue Reading
%d bloggers like this: