ICTs may appear new age and sophisticated but get deep – and see development and opportunities. Essentially ICTs address the barriers of time, money and distance – getting things done faster, reducing costs, opening up new avenues for progress and engaging effectively with others in different geographical locations. It’s impossible to ignore the strength in innovation.
ICT ideas and technology are redefining how people and organizations interact in all sectors of the economy. Technology is here to stay because it helps individuals, organizations and governments solve problems, address challenges and create opportunities.
Widen access to ICT facilities and observe the staggering multiplier effects. Good examples are the telecom and internet revolution in Nigeria. ICT is the infrastructure of this age – which is gradually becoming the age of innovation. “The old economic success factors of land, labour and capital are no longer the success factors for the new economy; it is now information and communication technology.”
Lack of access equals digital divide.
Improvements are noticeable in the availability of phone, IT applications, Internet and other related services in Nigeria. There are more mobile phones and laptops in offices, homes and the public than ever before.
So has night turned to day? Not quite. In view of Nigeria’s size and requirements ICT infrastructure and access is still grossly inadequate. Issues of ICT penetration and qualitative infrastructure retard growth. And epileptic power supply increases the cost of ICT. But is infrastructure the sole issue?
The answers are not limited to increased hardware and software consumption, or infrastructure. Nigeria has been identified as the fastest moving and one of busiest ICT market sectors in the world. Hurray? Is that enough? Big market, Big consumer or Big market, Big player? Importing nation at what cost? At the cost of the future? Are we buying blackberry, tablets and selling the future? Why are we so satisfied only with the results of IT? Let’s not get carried away with the noise and window dressing.
Is Innovation in the building?
Access to technology is important but not enough. Get past access. Inclusive development with ICT requires innovative practices. Satisfied with acquiring the latest technology tools? Better access to ICT is not an end in itself – the issue is what we do with access. Even with improved availability, lack of creative exploitation of ICT is responsible for the ever-widening digital divide. Innovation means utilizing technology, new knowledge, approaches and ideas to create new social and economic benefits.
Challenged by globalization? Throwing money at infrastructure will not ensure survival, advancement and competitiveness in the global rat race. Nations without realistic plans for innovative leverage on ICT risk being left behind. Lack of strategy arrests development and reinforces existing inequalities. ICT is a tool not the objective. Without focus availability guarantees nothing. People are integral to innovation as purpose flows from their needs. Innovation only connects with people when it touches the real issues of poverty, hunger and unemployment.
Development Advisory Consulting and Advocacy