From the wake of the new millennium, Akwa Ibom State has experienced rapid growth from a population of 3,902,051 in 2006 (2006 Census)  to almost hitting 6 million people in 2022. In terms of preparedness to strategically map Akwa Ibom and pitch at the global arena, the State has signature investments in the Aviation industry; also in Power, Agriculture, and Transportation sectors as well Sports and Tech development. With a power plant intact, the Ibom Utility Company is granted licence to operate an independent electricity distribution. The Akwa Ibom International Airport with an ongoing MRO (which will service Nigeria and its environs) is complemented by IbomAIR -a State-owned airline company. Bordering the Atlantic, the State is zealous of constructing the proposed world class Ibaka Deep Seaport, a component of Ibom Industrial City, designed to occupy 2,565 hectares with additional 1,565 hectares for future expansion. The State owns a 30,000 seater ultra modern sports complex, a 21-storey Smart Building, and the Ibom E-Library. Akwa Ibom has a rich tourism destination offering unrivaled wealth of scenic landscape, long sandy coast, a wealth of wildlife and culture with Some attractions including the Ibom Golf course, the Amalgamation House, Oron National Museum and Ibeno beach. Akwa Ibom is one of largest producers of petroleum in Nigeria, and also  endowed with various mineral resources such as limestone, clay, natural gas, salt, coal, granite and glass sand.

A fast growing economy like that of Akwa Ibom State aiming to become highly developed with well-trained man-power to attract high-end investments would continue to invest in cross-sectoral human capital and social development through quality education (formal, vocational and informal), improved healthcare, economic, social and infrastructural growth, security, industrialization and technological innovations. Reaching this apex implies that “poverty and inequality would have been reduced across its various dimensions”.

With the remarkable developments in information technology and data practices in recent years, it is pertinent that the Government remains proficient and up-to-date in modern techniques and best practices as it relates to the usefulness of obtaining accurate data for growth and development of the State.

Data revolution refers to the transformative and radical improvements on how data is produced, accessed and utilized. It opens up the space enabling participation of both government and citizens. It enables government to identify and design development targets and indicators, and provides a platform to track the progress made while ensuring inclusion of all stakeholders in the processes.

Data is a key resource capable of turning around the entire scope of government impact on society. The use of data plays an increasing role in the designing, delivery and transforming of public services to improve outcomes and drive efficiencies for public good.

Challenging Issues

Evidently, as it relates to data-driven discussions, the unavailability of readily available and accessible data infrastructures in developing communities continue to have debilitating effects and leaving these societies and citizens in a situation that seems to counter development efforts. This is in-spite of the many efforts that Governments have invested to uplift such societies. Even with the alarming signals, there is no reliable data on citizens’ employment and unemployment rates; number of children and youth in/out-of-school, number of those undergoing various training,  job vacancies rates per sector in the State, birth and death rates. 

Although the landscape is quite complicated, the availability of these data and understanding usage would lead to committed and strategic decisions being made and on time so as to derive the many benefits of investments through the right data policies.

Why Investments in Data infrastructure?

Data Infrastructures have multiple purposes which can develop more insights leading to better impact. Data drives economic growth and can be a pivot to obtaining development benefits, empower citizens and improve public services. A World Bank analysis, the World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives, shows that growing economies could gain where there is existence of data governance and good management decisions.

Being smart and strategic in making better use of data resources can bring enormous benefits -to government, partners, and communities alike. The availability of locally relevant, dis-aggregated data are all useful in strengthening government effectiveness. This is realizable through mechanisms such as  using bottom-up approaches to gather, streamline, and publish data. It offers a potential route to more participatory budgeting, transparency in public procurement, accountability in service delivery, sustainable data management and support broader open government policy implementation.

Understanding the benefits of data structure investments calls for more inclusive development strategies that align with international, national and sub-national developmental frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), African Agenda 2063, Nigeria SDGs Implementation Plan  (2020-2030), and the Akwa Ibom Arise Agenda; thereby increasingly stimulating data revolution for better targeted decision-making for long-term social development impacts.

Case Study -Power of Data

Unequivocally, Pastor Umo Eno stays in tune with both short and long-term incentives derived from investing in data structures. This therefore implied his pragmatic efforts while serving as Executive Director at the Directorate of Agricultural Investments and Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Lands & Water Resources both in Akwa Ibom State.

As the Executive Director of the Directorate of Agricultural Investments, he pioneered the setup of the Akwa Ibom Farmers Integrated Management System (AKFIMS), which served as platform where farmers in the State were enumerated so that at a click, information about the different farmers are obtainable including farmers’ location, hectare of land in use, type of crop planted or animal reared, and challenges faced. Ultimately, aiming at achieving food sufficiency and improve food security in the State. Through this medium, farmers are able to share information on commodity pricing and new farming methods, gain access to readily available markets to curtail incidences of post-harvest losses as well as rejigging the whole agricultural value chain.

While heading the Ministry of Lands and Water Resources, Pastor Umo Eno initiated the “Akwa Ibom Geographical Information System (AkwaGIS)”. The AkwaGIS  helps the State Government have digital inventory of landed properties and manage same in an organized and digitized manner. It closes the digital gap in the process of documentation, information and management of land and property in the State by validating the ownership, type of land, location, and size. It assists investors in real estate to ascertain authentic land and property owners.

There is no doubt that initiating these ideas puts Pastor Umo Eno on the clique of data-drivers who understand and see the need to invest in a data-driven system which has long-term impacts both for the State Government and citizens alike.

NextSteps -Making Investments in Data Structures Work

Following from the above, this is therefore, a call to come to terms with the fact that harnessing data revolution will provide practical considerations for multi-stakeholder approaches to fast-track development through data-driven decision-making, evidence-based policies, and stimulating mutual accountability for government, people, projects and investments.

Within this context, it is incumbent that the respective Government agencies and partners work to amplify sources and use of data by preparing ground for a good local data revolution process. Data revolution needs to go local; that is, using a bottom-up approach where local authorities are acquainted with the intrigues of adopting a set of common standards, management systems integration, data analytics and all of what makes data work.

When a better understanding about the value of data in public services is encouraged; it would; promote the design of services around user needs; engage and empower citizens to build their communities; drive efficiencies and public service transformation; promote economic and social growth through the innovative use of data; and promote transparency and accountability.

The Arise Agenda clearly outlines critical areas of focus of the Umo Eno-led Administration with practical steps  to make the implementation of the Agenda achievable. It is not just a document but more importantly, an accountability tool to keep the administration on toes.

Thus, delivering the projects and programs highlighted in the Arise Agenda requires that first, the discussion on implementation of data structures for Akwa Ibom State takes shape. In this case, what to immediately consider would be; how to expand the means/mode of data collection, data management (storage, usage), data governance (regulation, policy, security), sustainable financing, monitoring and evaluation.


Unlocking the potential of investments in data and technology to achieve more inclusive, efficient, and effective development outcomes is rather a continuous approach. We have to continue to share lessons learned -both successes and failures -to catalyze evidence-based and sustainable development progress from data structures.

With building a reliable data ecosystem, governments can consolidate data from diverse sources and analyze them in ways that strengthen service delivery and bring common good to citizens. The data that the State Government can deal with include statistics on employed and unemployed rates, household and community needs, poverty reduction rates, market pricing, citizens response to policy implementation, geospatial and weather data, tracking progress, timelines and financing of projects and programs.

To achieve lasting progress requires the government and partners to make sound, evidence-based investments. Such investments must be shaped by citizens’ articulated needs which empowers and enables communities to meaningfully co-create solutions for productive, sustainable and healthy living.

It is inevitable that everyone, everywhere can benefit from reliable data -the farmer, trader, small and big businesses, all sectors of the economy, both public and private entities, the list is endless.

Finally, in the course of unbundling initiatives to activate the Arise Agenda, it is believed that Pastor Umo Eno following his antecedents in the private and public sectors would mop-up investments in data-revolution as the base for achieving result-driven development for the present generation of Akwa Ibomites and lasting for coming generations.

UnyimeAbasi Ben
Sustainable Development, Policy & Research Expert,
Governance for Development Initiative

Quest News 24

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