Lai Mohammed’s speech at the launch of Economic value of geospatial services in Abuja

Alhaji Lai Mohammed at a workshop for strategic communication liaison officers organized by ONSA


Good morning. It is a pleasure for me to be here for this event.

2.   I am sure that many of us cannot imagine how we got by before the advent of the digital mapping services which we now use daily. I think we can all agree that the ability to simply search for a location and get real time directions there has made our lives much more convenient. As we hurry from place to place, though, it’s easy to lose sight of the very real economic impact of these services since they were introduced five years ago.

3.   It’s incredible to think, for instance, from today’s launched research, that digital maps reduce travel time in Nigeria by an average of eight percent. This reduced travel time alone saves our people nearly 200 billion Naira a year.

4.   Many of you will know that tourism, as well as arts and culture, plays a pivotal role in our economic recovery and growth programme. As outlined in the programme, Nigeria’s tourism industry offers great potential for medium-term growth, building on the country’s rich bio-diversity and ecosystem, traditional cultural diversity, historical cities, and arts and crafts.

5.   Currently, tourism and hospitality account for 4.7% of the Nigerian GDP. We know we have all the raw ingredients necessary to increase that percentage. It’s now about bringing those ingredients together in a way that encourages people to experience all of Nigeria’s best features.

6.   As we look to make Nigeria a major tourism destination in Africa,
technologies such as Google Maps, but more specifically StreetView put
forward by Google, will become increasingly important on that front. We hope to see even more value as increasing numbers of people use tools like Google Street View to explore Lagos.

7.   Not only will local users benefit from the tool, it can also be incredibly powerful in drawing tourists to our cities. We know this because we’ve seen the impact that StreetView has had in destinations around Africa. In South Africa, for instance, people can take a guided tour of Robben Island, the prison which held Nelson Mandela and many other South African freedom fighters during apartheid.

8. In Kenya, meanwhile, users can take virtual treks through some of the country’s most famous game reserves. And in Tanzania, people can get up close and personal with the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park, thanks to a partnership between Google and the Jane Goodall foundation.

9.   These are all examples of how giving people a taste of a place they have not visited is a powerful incentive to get them to experience the real thing. We look forward to doing the same in Nigeria, as we show off our own natural and cultural heritage.

10.   The Plan also recognises the need to leverage Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and build a knowledge-based economy. It is therefore encouraging to see proof of the role digital mapping tools are already playing in growing these sectors. Moreover, it illustrates how interconnected all aspects of the economy are.

11.   This interconnectedness is especially evident in the tourism sector. As well as bringing in foreign capital, tourism helps grow other industries, including hospitality, retail and transport. Done properly, it also promotes and encourages patronage of local agriculture, creative industry and manufactured products by operators in the tourism industry. That’s especially important as we look to cement our place as Africa’s largest economy.

12.   Government is working hard to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to promote tourism. We are also cutting back on bureaucracy to ensure that travellers entering Nigeria can do so easily and with a minimum amount of stress.

13.   Finally, I’d like to say that events such as this one offer a powerful reminder of how impactful partnerships between government and private companies like Google can be – to grow our local businesses and strengthen our economy. If digital mapping services have made such a difference in the last five years, we can only imagine what the next five will bring. We look forward to growing this fruitful relationship in the coming years and seeing what Google comes up with next.

14.   I thank you all for your kind attention