The Nigerian Information and Communications Technology ICT environment has no doubt improved. But how much progress is being made in the development of a competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy? “Bread or Broadband” issues are still real and unresolved.
To understand and deepen the impact of technology our development advisory work at Jidaw suggests that we must look beyond technology. ICT is a key and established factor in improving economic competitiveness. However, is there an understanding and real commitment to using the potentials offered by ICT to address real social and economic problems. How serious or realistic are the solutions being proffered?
Are issues being seen through the eyes of those on the wrong end of the divide? They make sense to the Victoria Island banker but what does this mean to the farmer in Ondo state? Or is ICT another urban or elite conspiracy. What is the basis of my perception? ICT is real or imaginary.
The dilemma is “Bread or Broadband” or “Broadband for Bread” or “Bread and Broadband”. If I can’t see how ICT connects to my bread today and my future tomorrow, how can ICT be real to me? In view their lack of exposure and exclusion how many clearly see how ICT contributes to their well being? What effort is being made to bridge this gap? It‘s not just about more technology and more infrastructure. Jidaw’s consulting assignments related to deploying technology for development continually show that the issue at stake is both a livelihood and future growth issue. It isn’t about throwing technology at the problem.
Low Digital Literacy/ Poor e-business culture
Among the rural majority there is a lack of awareness of the applications and benefits of ICT. How many in the rural areas have had any contact with computers? How well is the idea of the knowledge society using the infrastructure of ICT being sold? At Jidaw we stress that digital inclusion is fundamental to development. Nobody should be outside looking in.
In the new world of opportunities and innovation, availability of technology is critical but attitudes die-hard. Technology is perceived as unaffordable if the benefits are not demonstrable or clear. Human development starts with awareness, understanding and attitudinal changes. Everybody needs to know about the use of knowledge and technology as a competitive advantage and how it should be used as a common resource for the benefit of all.
Digital literacy goes beyond usage. Digital literacy means being able to answer the following questions. What is the power of the transformational role of ICTs in the economy? How does ICT develop other sectors? More productivity gains from ICT come from ICT user intensive sectors than from the ICT industry itself. As part of building the knowledge society culture, the perception of ICTs as an area capable of transforming a wide range of economic and social activity needs to be reinforced.
Development Advisory Consulting and Advocacy