In many aspects, Ibadan is a unique and special city in South Western Nigeria. Political history in the region is not complete without mentioning how it nurtured a number of politicians who later held various positions before and after the country gained independence in 1960. Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the former Premier of the region, who hailed from Ogun state practiced his political and leadership philosophies most in the city. It is a city that cannot be neglected when regional and national socioeconomic history is being discussed and debated.
From Iwo-Road, the heart of the city in terms of linkages to other cities in the South West region and some parts of the North-Central region, to Dugbe and Challenge, it is not difficult to know that the city is growing in all aspects. New private and public infrastructure are emerging every day. Even in the suburbs such as Moniya, Oloodo among others. In our experience, we discovered that people are moving into the city from other parts of the country for residential purpose. This is largely due to improve socioeconomic activities and rapid urbanization.
As these factors and others come into play, expanding metropolitan nature of the city to cosmopolitan, people and businesses are yearning for smart way of curating, mining and utilizing open and big data. In his views, in a foreword to a recent report published by Infoprations [a data driven management consulting company], Professor Ndubuisi Ekekwe notes that “data will play a significant role in the advancement of Ibadan, and deepening the capabilities through productive knowledge base, will be catalytic, not just for the city, but for Nigeria and Africa in general. Indeed, if Ibadan can make sense, and refine the numbers of Nigeria, a new aspirational trajectory would be created, and that can unlock new wealth vistas in the nation.”
Examination of Professor Ekekwe’s position in the context of our recent study of the growth of critical sectors and industries in the city shows that the realisation of unlocking new wealth vistas is not far. From the transportation industry to the education sector, there is a need to curate, mine and use data using artificial intelligence and machine learning tools for product and service creation. This use is also needed in healthcare, critical infrastructure maintenance among others. As the federal government opened up Moniya,a suburb, with the construction of rail line, and other areas being lifted up by the state government, there is a need for smart processes, people and facilities for sustainable growth.
Both the public and private stakeholders have significant roles to play. Oyo state government through the Ministries, Agencies and Departments saddled with the tasks of increasing digital knowledge and skills of people need to work out strategic roadmaps [driven by public-private partnership] that would cater for the needs of critical industries and sectors that are growing geometrically as the city population expands. When the roadmaps are available, businesses in the Information and Technology sector need to key into them by exploring objectives and strategic goals using practical skill-sets and strategic tools.