As the 2015 election approaches, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development should be a matter deserving of priority attention from those who seek our votes. All prospectors promise to lead. Pilot us where? To the shamefulness of electronic colonization or to a promising digital future?
The massive plunge in crude oil prices strengthens the case for diversifying the economy away from oil. And with such a huge population, the largest in Africa, import dependency is an expensive sustainability weakness. Prevailing social and economic uncertainties are a tough reminder that innovation is the key to Nigeria’s survival and progress. People are the source of all creativity and innovation. Our future is in human capital. A thriving knowledge economy is driven by a populace that is educated, empowered and innovative.
To acknowledge that the role of technology is integral to the much needed economic diversification and development is to embrace and confront reality. Thoughtfully applied and directed ICT provides great opportunities to meaningfully improve governance and propel development in all economic sectors. It is surely only logical to pay give more than cursory thought to information technology, telecommunications and related areas.
Certainly digital technology presence and access has improved. Quite impressive is the manner in which the sector, telecom especially, has attracted global investment. Some new initiatives have also made an impact. However, on an overall basis, ICT development still faces a myriad of challenges.
Massive consumption should not be mistaken for progress. Big market at what cost and for whose benefit? Enough with the romanticization of tech consumption! Nigeria has an identity on the global digital map but the majority of its citizens are still unconnected – unable to fully participate and benefit from the emerging electronic economy. Digital gaps in society are massive and the IT industry and profession faces immense problems advancing into the future. ICT enabled development is not where it should be. A lot of work still needs to be done.
Visionary leaders need no motivation to put IT and Telecoms high on the agenda. It is about enabling the 21st century platform for boosting job creation, tackling developmental challenges of poverty, disease and illiteracy and building a modern, globally competitive and inclusive economy. The need for government regulation and planning in this most critical sector is clear.
Building on what has been done so far, proactive measures and leadership foster the growth of a knowledge society that benefits all Nigerians.
(To be Continued in Part 2)
Innovation and Development Advisor, ICT
“Technology matters, but it is always about PEOPLE”