January 29, 2023

Data Is The Currency, Lifeblood And New Oil Of The Digital Economy – Pantami

3 min read

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami has described data  as the currency, lifeblood and new oil of the digital economy.

Pantami made this known on Tuesday, 3rd November, 2020 as the Special Guest of Honour at the Virtual Stakeholders’ Engagement on the Draft Nigeria Mobile Big Data Policy.

He said that Mobile big data analytics of anonymized data has the potential to support Nigeria as the Nation develop its digital economy.

“A focus on growing the National Digital Economy will also improve the our traditional economy and will enable us get a slice of the Global Digital Economy, which Oxford Economics values at $11.5 trillion dollars or approximately 16% of the Global Economy. This value is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. The World Economic Forum also predicts that over 60% of global GDP will be digitized by 2022 and that over the next decade, digital platforms will be used to create close to 70% of new value, Pantami said.

The Minister further said, “Our wealth as a nation was mainly measured by the minerals and natural resources we have been endowed with but we are now moving into an era where our wealth will be measured by our digital resources and the innovation of Nigerians. We have depended on oil for decades so the expression “data is the new oil” shows our focus on a paradigm shift and is in line with the efforts of the Federal Government to diversify the economy.

“The restrictions that came as a result of the pandemic showed us the importance of digital resources to the sustenance of the economy and businesses. Furthermore, we will observe that the leading companies of today are not like the corporations of the past that focussed on natural resources. Rather, they are the Amazons, Googles, Facebooks and Microsofts of today who have a high level of valuation primarily because they warehouse and process massive amounts of useful data.

“We can draw a lot of parallels between data and oil.
• They are similar in the following ways:
# Both play a key role in powering economies; oil powers the industrial economy while data powers the digital economy;
# Time has shown that, to some extent, national and institutional wealth is directly proportional to the amount of the resource that they control;
# Both types of resources need refinement to be useful; with big data analytics and artificial intelligence, data is being refined to create impressive insights and great wealth.
• They differ in the following ways:
# Oil is finite while data is seemingly infinite;
# Oil when used can barely be reused, whereas the same data can be used for different purposes at the same time.

Pantami said the process for the discovery and processing of anonymized mobile data as a source of official statistics was initiated by National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) under his leadership as Director General, approved by the National Council on Communications Technology (NCCT) in 2018 and implemented by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

“A national Technical Working Group was set up, comprising the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and other key institutions.

“Nigeria is not alone in identifying new opportunities from data. The United Nations is one of the global institutions that is exploring the use of mobile big data. The UN also recognized the availability of new data accumulated over the course of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. The UN Big Data Global Working Group was set up in collaboration with key institutions like the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), GSM Association (GSMA) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OEDC).

“The focus of the Group is to establish protocols for the use of big data to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, among others.

“We recognize that data can be leveraged upon to support the development of government digital services platforms, as well as create new and valuable services across several sub-sectors including FinTech, EdTech and Smart Agriculture, amongst others. The potential is enormous and we invite you all to support us in making this potential translate into real value, the statement concluded.

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