The Role of Information Technology in Eliminating Thinking Poverty

  If I told you that Nigeria currently needs about 20 million personal computers to compete with the rest of the world, you will say haba! What about …

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If I told you that Nigeria currently needs about 20 million personal computers to compete with the rest of the world, you will say haba! What about if I tell you that there are about 14millions of students of school age (UBE- Universal Basic Education) that are currently out of school or that there are more than 10 million youths used as house help in Nigeria and or, that there are about 12 million pot holes on out roads (estimates mine), what will you say?

 

As I write, Senator Barack Obama who has just been elected the 44th President of the United States of America – on merit! The most significant lesson worthy of note from Obama’s historic victory is that the success was enabled and powered by Technology and in particular, by Information Technology (IT).

 

The change he advocated tenaciously with convincing audacity, was consciously spurred by the promise of what IT can do to enthrone transparency and foster hope for the children yet unborn. IT was the ultimate winner.

 

The potentials of technology to create, design, destroy, empower, control and deliver constructive freedom – continues to amaze us – as we forge into the very complex and knowledge-addictive frontiers of Information Society. Common sense (that is afterall not too common) tells us that it was a piece/product of technology (the Compass) that discovered our great-great fore fathers in Africa and started globalization otherwise known at that time, as slave trade! It is no co-incidence therefore that the centre of gravity of Obama’s election as the first African-American President of the United States of America, is codified in Information Technology.

 

Constructive IT deployment and diffusion can therefore help in significantly reducing the various levels of poverty in our nation. The origin of the overt poverty we see around us today in our nation and prevalent in our everyday life activity is directly rooted in the “Thinking Poverty” of governance and leadership and indeed of follower-ship – within the context of technology vision, processes and implementation standards! There are various forms and attributes of poverty. The most common in the developing countries such as Nigeria are: Creative poverty, Innovation Poverty, Technology understanding and interpretation poverty; Research & Development poverty, Resource-sharing poverty, Ethics Poverty, shared-knowledge poverty and indeed, Information and communication poverty.  IT can change all those poverty clusters positively.

 

Thinking poverty and related chains of techno-phobia induced poverty are predominantly responsible for all the other layers of secondary poverty levels – which multiply exponentially with deep rooted consequences for nation building and competitiveness.  Also, it has contributed in no small measure in alienating the dynamics of merit-structured development, eroded our innate potentials for innovative risks. The resultant effect is that it has helped to build the frustration chambers and the prison for reducing creative generations.

 

The character of a nation, we are reliably informed, are determined by the architecture (in form and content) of her information structure and systems coordinates. Therefore, building core technology and skilled capacities of Intellectual Capital is strategically imperative if we must compete globally. Information Technology has unarguably become the answer to resolving the colossal conflict of poverty in our nation – and no amount of foreign Aids and so-called transfer of technology is capable of delivering a functional and sustainable solution. Castells (1996) uses the “Network Society” as a metaphor to describe contemporary society structures as made up of networks – and more specifically, informational networks. There are two distinct key elements of Castellas’ analysis. That is: ‘Networking’ and ‘Technology’. While Networks are made up of interconnected nodes with no visible centre – as exemplified in global financial networks – Technology on the other hand is the process of ensuring that development is properly organized, executed and sustained through motivated creativity and innovation.
Simply defined, poverty (also called penury) is the deprivation of common necessities that determine the quality of life, including knowledge and access to food, clothing, shelter and safe drinking water, and may also include the deprivation of opportunities to learn, to obtain better employment to escape poverty, and/or to enjoy the respect of fellow citizens.

 

According to Mollie Orshansky who developed the poverty measurements used by the U.S. government, “to be poor is to be deprived of those goods and services and pleasures which others around us take for granted.”  National thinking poverty is at the roots of the above evils. The good news is the Information Technology can help and is capable to/of resolving it – especially as it affects the Nigerian nation today! Discussions on causes, effects and best ways to measure poverty, directly influence the design and implementation of poverty-reduction programs and are therefore relevant to the fields of public administration and international development.
Structured ‘Thinking Culture’ (TC) competence as apposite to ‘Thinking poverty’ (TP) assimilation, is not only an essential ingredient but a fundamentally critical element for the development of great nations and the survivability of their future.  Nations need to evolve a conscious Thinking culture as foundation for developing a functional ‘National Data Base’

 

Structured thinking dynamics leads to constantly creative modular response to global competitiveness. The 21st century has revealed that there can be no other means to achieve this than to intensify a mandatory access, application and deployment of Information Technology processes to all nooks and cranny of the nation.

 

Globalization as a thought process is indeed, the internationalization of trade, commerce and culture – which started more than 500 years ago, when the compass (a piece of technology) became the centre of gravity (used as the critical pathfinder) to discover of our great-great fore-fathers( in their innocent and peaceful habitat) and the consequent actualization of commercial slave trade process. Indeed, it was the compass that aided, abetted and elongated the slave trade.

 

This portrays the evidence that the hunter will never venture into the rain forest wilderness without his spear, knife, gun and/or shield.

 

Nigeria needs to re-think and re-structure her future, within the context of Information Technology and Globalization – else she may become one of the pathetic victims of the 21st century Digital colonies – or Digital Slaves discovered by IT and later visited by digital disaster!
Digital Economic Security:  That Digital Disaster (DD) will occur to some unprepared, dumb and ignorant nations of the world, within the context of this 21st century Digital Revolution is a foregone conclusion! Will Digital Disaster occur?

 

The following inputs will amplify the obvious – that it has indeed already started to happen and the damage – which will be significantly colossal.  This damage will continue to magnify for IT Deaf & Dumb nations.  “Nations that aren’t able to resume operations within few days (of a disaster hit) are not likely to survive.” (Strategic Research Institute).

 

To exclude Digital Disaster as an essential parameter for national planning and indeed as one of the inevitable major national catastrophes of the global IT evolution cycle is indeed a great fallacy.  It will happen. Question is, who will be hurt, what will be the volume and value of damages and how long will it take to actualise Disaster Recovery? The Information intensive Knowledge society is here and knowledge Olympiad has long begun.  Some Statistics on Digital Disaster? When evaluating digital development and disasters in general, the discovery road leads to the USA, as one of the core originating domains of Information Technology process. The following examples are some referenced statistics about U.S. data loss:

 

“Six percent of all PCs suffer an episode of data loss in any given year. Given the number of PCs used in US businesses in 1998, that translates to approximately 4.6 million data loss episodes.” (The Cost Of Lost Data, David M. Smith). “30 percent of all businesses that have a major fire go out of business within a year. Seventy percent fail within five years.” (Home Office Computing Magazine). “93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.” “50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately.” (National Archives & Records Administration in Washington) “Companies that aren’t able to resume operations within ten days (of a disaster hit) are not likely to survive.” (Strategic Research Institute).

 

The Nigerian Youths must now start to vigorously question the perpetual techno-phobia and abject neglect and abandonment of their future and birth rights by their leaders at all levels of development: Education, Government, Family, and society at large. It is time to tell ourselves the naked truth with the acclamation that the Nigerian nation has almost failed – with respect to IT development! And this is very worrisome. Wole Soyinka lost his generation to myopic leadership and fellowships, so did I. The generation next must apply IT abundantly like President Barack Obama to stop this trend.

 

 

About the Author

Chris Uwaje: Known as the Oracle of the Nigerian IT Industry, Pioneered the conceptualization Framework and content drafting strategy for the establishment of the National Information Technology Development Policy for Nigeria. He is the former Regional Director for D-link International – West Africa. In 2008 he was crowned the IT Personality of the year. He has presented many IT conference papers at home and abroad. He is a speaker of international repute. Uwaje, who is very passionate about youth empowerment through ICT, before now, was the Principal Consultant and Chief Executive Officer of Connect Technologies Limited, (Developers of E-Government Solutions, Enterprise Banker Enterprise, Enterprise Knowledge Intelligence Groupware & Enterprise Cooperative Financials Application).He is an expert in Software Design and Engineering Solutions; Research, Design and Development (RD&D). His special professional focus: National & Regional IT Strategy and Policy; Coordinating Chairman, Council for West Africa Information Technology Professionals (CWAITP).President Cybersecurity NGO Global Network for Cybersolution, Past President of Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN) and  President of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON).Member, National Inter-Ministerial Committee on Software Development, Council Member, Computer Professional Registration Council of Nigeria. (CPN). Foundation Member, National Software Development Initiative (NSDI), Member, National Outsourcing Initiative by the Federal Government of Nigeria.He is a distinguished Fellow of Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Fellow: Institute of Analysts and Programmers. U.K. Fellow: Institute of Certified Professional of UK; Former Council Member: Nigeria Computer Society (NCS). Pioneer Past President Global Network for Cyber Solution (NGO on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Chris Uwaje is reputed for his numerous articles concerning national and International issues on ICT.

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