Obaseki advances on digital economy, flags off Edo Digital Policy Project
…partners NESG, Melinda Gates Foundation
…sets up new agency to sustain digital, data-driven governance
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Friday, launched the Edo Digital Policy Project in furtherance of the government’s efforts to expand the state’s digital economy and drive sustainable growth and development across the State via technology.
The governor flagged off the project when he received a team of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who were on a courtesy visit at the Government House in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
Obaseki, who said the programme will bolster the government’s efforts at leveraging technology to deliver efficient and quality services to the people of the State, noted that the project is facilitated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).
Noting that the State remains committed to expanding its digital economy, the governor said the government will set up a new agency to sustain the success recorded in digital and data-driven governance across the State.
According to him, “Over the last six years, we have been emphasizing institutional reforms to ensure that government provides efficient and effective services to Edo people. We have prioritized digital technology in Edo State. Working with the Head of Service and his team as well as the civil/public servants in the State, we have been able to create a digital platform to move the government ahead. The EdoBEST programme and our initiatives in the healthcare system are testimonies of our embrace of digital systems to provide effective and efficient service to our people.
“We have made a critical and important investment in building the infrastructure to support our digital revolution and thank our various partners for supporting the system to grow.”
On the set-up of the agency, the governor noted, “The Edo State Government is introducing a new Agency which will be a digital and data governance agency in the State as the name will be fine-tuned. All the data being gathered have to be consolidated in an Agency. I will be signing an Executive Order to this effect before legislation will support the creation of that Agency.”
He added, “We are gathering data in the State. Data from EdoBEST, the health insurance system and different other places. These data need to be managed. These data must be owned, kept and secured by us with the support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We would be strengthening that Agency. We have hired an interim Managing Director who is Osarieme Bazuaye but it is subjject to my Executive Order and that order will be signed next week.”
The governor continued: “The world now is concerned with Artificial Intelligence. In our quest to make Edo State great again, we must be in the forefront of digital technology in the nation. We are creating opportunities for our young people to explore the digital space in the State. We are also creating a digital world in Edo and opening the system for them.
“This project is a priority for us and you will get the support of all the Ministries and MDAs, as we will do a weekly review and want the draft of this policy this year at Alaghodaro to show the world that we are thinking ahead. We want the State to be a digital power.”
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Snr. Programme Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bunmi Okunowo said, “Edo State Government has taken a lot of steps in implementing digital solutions across the State. An example is the e.gov that helps in writing memos and approving them electronically.
“Our role for investment is to see how to strengthen the digital capability of government, public service and civil servants as well. Also, we want to bridge the digital divide between the government and the private sector.
“The programme started in February this year and has progressed steadily to this point. Digi link has different components under it. One of which is to support the State Government in code creation, code designing, code developing, amongst many others so as to strengthen governance and drive inclusion between government and vulnerable people.”
The Executive Director, Policy Innovation Center, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Osasuyi Dirisu noted that “the digital ecosystem in Edo State is doing a lot as we work through these different organizations, bringing together their needs for policy guidelines and processes to drive and guide what they do.”