LASU VC Links Africa’s Under Development to Lack of Appropriate Data

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(Last Updated On: 2016-12-17)

Olumide Lawal


The Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University, (LASU), Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun has identified lack of appropriate data as bane of development in Africa.

Professor Fagbohun stated this at a 3-day Skills Development Workshop tagged: “African Workshop on How to Use Data for Strategic Communication in Development” noted that lack of data often impedes effective development planning in the continent.

The workshop organized by the university’s School of Communication (LASUSOC) on data development and management in partnership with the Indian-based group, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), has partnered with held between December 13-15, 2016 brought about  LASU and the CSE agreement to exchange expertise and experiences in the fields of development communication, journalism and data science.

The VC expressed delight in the theme of the workshop noted that its focus on Africa addresses peculiarities of data gathering and dissemination within the African context.

Also speaking at the event, Dean, LASUSOC, Prof. Rotimi Olatunji reiterated importance of data to formulation and execution of development programmes.

Olatunji noted that availability of appropriate and reliable data often provide bases for creative solutions to societal challenges.

While commending the CSE for its collaboration with the School, the don expressed optimism that the “partnership will continue to positively impact both scholarship and development efforts in the two countries.

The Director, CSE’s Indian Environment Portal, Kiran Pandey said Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is first step towards a meaningful association between the two countries and lays foundation for data revolution which will mutually benefit them to develop in every sphere.

On benefits of the agreement, Pandey said, the potential is immense. Both India and Nigeria face similar challenges and this is one of the first attempts to provide a platform for the people who are engaged in the important role of nation building in the two countries.

“The reason we wanted to partner LASU is because the university is the right place to reach out with the young minds who will play a major role in the nation building in the future.”

“The success of the first workshop shows the great potential in the field of data. We hope to establish a community of data divers who work together to make the government more transparent and accountable,” she added.

On his part, Rajit Sengupta of CSE’s Down to Earth magazine and a trainer at the workshop said: “Our magazine, Down to Earth, has been using data and stories to highlight challenges and successes in the fields of environment and development for the past 25years in India. The workshop is an attempt to share our learnings and experiences.”

Also speaking, the Sub-Dean, LASUSOC, Dr. Suraj Olunifesi Adekunle said that Africa is backward as a result of lack of data.

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“We have come to an age where if you don’t have a tab on your data you can’t actually advance in developmental projects. We have seen the United Nation Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Africa was not able to meet up.

“Now, we are talking about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Africa may not meet up. The reason is because Africa does not keep data. We don’t keep data. We rely on foreign data. Whatever foreign organisations tell us is what we accept. That’s why most of the advice by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank among others are not applicable to Africa because it’s not based on data generation.

“Take Nigeria for instance, how much crude oil are we taking out of the country over the years? Nobody could tell you. We rely so much on the statistics reeled out by foreign oil experts. There was a time in this country the Inspector General of Police was asked about the total number of policemen in the country, he could not state the exact number.

“So, we have seen that we can’t run effectively without data, we have seen that we can’t have a good policy for development without data. We can’t continue this way. Even this current biting recession could be tackled with adequate data as it would help curtail waste in the system,” he said.

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