Concept and conflict of data as the new oil? – Chris Uwaje

Concept and conflict of data as the new oil? – Chris Uwaje




First, the following statement and my position are not unaware of the hidden intent of the proponents of Data as the new Oil.


Available records show that the world population increased from 1billion in 1800 to 7.8 billion today. With the advent of space travel, what will the world population figure look like 100 years from now? Are we alone in the universe?


As a citizen of a developing nation, I am concerned about the danger of allowing the coming generations to continue to worship the gift of Crude Oil as the false Alpha and Omega of life.


Are we humans having an identity crisis today within the development trajectory in recent years? Have we lost our senses of articulation, perception and computing? How did we get here? There are many unanswered questions out there due to inadequate and concise data. This scenario continues to create complex challenges in our critical decision-making procedures and ecosystem.

ALSO READ: Africa, 5G and cloudization of data – Chris Uwaje


Therefore, central to the kernel of this write-up, one is curious and compelled to ask; “Is Data indeed the new Oil? If that perception is correct, it becomes equally significant to contest that assumption by questioning; “what is crude oil, if not Data?



Concept and conflict of data as the new oil? - Chris Uwaje


The entire process of crude oil exploration, extraction, refining, shipment logistics, marketing and sales is data-based knowledge. Perhaps, we need to consult AI and Robots to read the mind and state of the future world? No, we must engage and forge the future ourselves with the help of digital data transformation abilities.



Data is the absolute reason for the existence of humanity. Life is a Code. Data is our entire life. It represents the whole, variables, quantities, characters, and symbols of the universe on which the existence on which the configuration, and operations of our existence are performed by computational mechanism.


The outcome of the input (based on the computing principles: garbage-in, garbage-out; as we know it), is stored and transmitted in the form of digital signals for communications, production, and wealth creation processes for national and global development. That represents a distinct example of the importance and omnipotence of data on human lives. It further sums up to the adage of ‘As you lay your bed, so you sleep on it’.

ALSO READ: Data, Data everywhere and none to own – Nigeria your IP – Chris Uwaje

Just as oxygen, water, air and wind, crude oil and gas in their entire process and usage conditions are data-symbolizing a fundamental aspect of human development equation and experience.



According to World Development Report on Data for Better Lives 2021; the unprecedented growth of data and their ubiquity in our lives are signs that the data revolution is transforming the world.  However, much of the value of data remains untapped. Data collected for one purpose have the potential to generate economic and social value in applications; far beyond those originally anticipated.



Concept and conflict of data as the new oil? - Chris Uwaje


However, many barriers stand in the way, ranging from misaligned incentives and incompatible data systems to a fundamental lack of trust. Now that climate change conditionalities are forcing humanity to re-think our collective future; Africans are presented with the advantage to reimagine her knowledge ecosystem by embracing Data Sciences.



The global economy value of Data in 2017, according to the CIA’s World Fact-book; the GWP was around US $80.27 trillion in nominal terms and totalled approximately 127.8 trillion international dollars in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). The per capita PPP GWP in 2017 was approximately Int$17,500. The figure continues to grow in leaps and bounds.



Recently, William Stein, Chief Executive Officer of Digital Realty, said: “Over the next decade, there will be huge opportunity for global businesses to tap into Africa’s expanding internet economy – with predictions that it could reach 5.2% of the continent’s GDP by 2025, contributing nearly $180 billion to its economy (up from $115 billion in 2020)”.



Concept and conflict of data as the new oil? - Chris Uwaje




Therefore, the concept of Data as the new Oil is to the best of standard assumption and perception; a troubled and confusing conflict of digital reasoning. In addition, this conflict discharges unforgiving inaccuracies in many ways. First, the Gas and Crude Oil ecosystem represents an embodiment of data. Whereas, Data is life in its holistic structure, behaviour and application that selflessly regulates our existence – including the totality.


Indeed, the assumption and promotion of the concept of Data as the new Oil, particularly in our economic equation may be grossly misleading. It is contingent, therefore, to develop data responsive models for reimagining our sustainable development policy agenda and strategy. In my candid opinion, there is a significant difference between a Data Economy, Digital Economy and Digital Transformation.


ALSO READ: Big Data Transformation: – Gaps in Digital Economy – Chris Uwaje



Concept and conflict of data as the new oil? - Chris Uwaje


A Data Economy is an evidence-based automated economic development model; while a digital economy is an automated economic development process; which may not necessarily be propelled by Data Analytics and/Evidence-based economic development process. Digital Transformation represents the intertwining knowledge web that constantly refines, drive and sustain 21st century sustainable development goals in all its ramifications.



The crux of this submission from a developing nation point of view, therefore, is that STEM -based Data formation is an evidenced based economic development model that leads to and guarantees sustainable development. Whereas the digital economy-only development model may not necessarily guarantee sustainable development; especially where its ownership of and the Intellectual Property (IP) content is not indigenous and in synergy with the scientific philosophy of evidence-based research.



Inability to collect, structure and provide accurate and speedily translate data into clustered information value-chain does not lead to achieving the fundamental goals of meaningful and sustainable development. To ensure the delivery of meaningful insight for our national development; we must deconstruct the misleading assumption of classifying Data as the new Oil; having experienced the quantum disaster of concentrating national development strategies on a mono-commodity economy rather than a multi-dimensional knowledge-economy development model.



Time to act and harness our data is now.

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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