Experts emphasise importance of adequate data for African development

The Lack of appropriate data has been identified as the bane of development in Africa, often impeding effective development planning.

The Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University, Olanrewaju Fagbohun, noted this in his opening remarks at a 3-day skills development workshop organised by the University in collaboration with Indian think tank Centre for Science and Environment, CSE.

Mr. Fagbohun expressed delight in the theme of the workshop, ‘Development through Data: African Workshop on how to use Data for Strategic Communication in Development’, noting that its focus on Africa addresses the peculiarities of data gathering and dissemination within the African context.

Also speaking at the event, the Dean, Lagos State University School of Communication, LASUSOC, Rotimi Olatunji, reiterated the importance of data to the “formulation and execution of development programmes”.

He noted that the availability of appropriate and reliable data often “provide the bases for creative solutions to societal challenges”.

Suraj Adekunle, the Sub-Dean, Lagos State University School of Communication and the Facilitator of the partnership between LASUSOC and CSE, in his own remarks, said it is high time Africa takes its destiny in its hands by being in charge of its own data.

He said data by Africa for Africa is the only way Africa can achieve its developmental agenda.

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

Speaking at the event as a Nigerian resource person on Data Journalism and New Media was Adekunle Adedeji of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, PTCIJ.

He taught data analysis and visualization skills and how to utilize available data resources to identify development issues. He also reiterated the commitment of PTCIJ to campus media development.

The Lagos State University and the CSE agreed to exchange expertise and experiences in the fields of development communication, journalism and data science.

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

Talking about benefits of the agreement, Mr. 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 with 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.”

Talking about the workshop, she added, “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 governments more transparent and accountable.”

“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 25 years in India. The workshop is an attempt to share our learnings and experiences,” says Rajit Sengupta of CSE’s Down to Earth magazine and a trainer at the three-day workshop.

The workshop was attended by over 60 participants from varied professional backgrounds including journalists, members of the civil society, academics, NGOs, corporate organizations, media practitioners and government officials.

Background

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is an independent public interest research and advocacy organisation based in New Delhi, India. CSE researches into, lobbies for and communicates the urgency of development that is sustainable and equitable. The centre has played an important role as a southern think tank that articulates the perspectives and policies of the global south. Its prestigious magazine Down to Earth is currently celebrating 25 years of meaningful reporting on developmental issues from across the world. The magazine has special focus on issues concerning the global south including Africa.

The Lagos State University School of Communication is the flagship of communication scholarship in Nigeria, established in 2000, and currently running Bachelor’s Masters, and Doctorate degree programmes in Communication Studies. The School is one of the numerous faculties, schools, centres and College, under the dynamic leadership of Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun, the Vice-Chancellor.

A memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that defines the relationship between Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India and LASU School of Communication was signed at the end of the Training Workshop.

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