With the recent economic recession that took the world by surprise and the gradual recovery of economies, several questions begin to come to mind especially as a Nigerian and an Abian in particular. One of such questions is; what is Abia State of Nigeria known for? Where are we politically, socially, economically and even culturally in the scheme of things in the country?
Taking this further, in the next 10 years what will be the major source of revenue and economic development for our people? It is one of such questions that every selfless Abian should ask especially the government of the day.
I am aware that right now we might be politically disadvantaged, and that in itself has a huge effect on the developmental plans and processes. But we can do something about it! Yes we can! That is the essence of this writing.
Come to think of it, are we really aware the age we are in? It’s quite clear that we have Agricultural and Industrial prowess and potentials in the state, but for all these years where has that led us to? We have passed the Agricultural and Industrial ages, these two development channels for better result, are now driven by Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
This is information driven age, the knowledge economy, the digital knowledge democracy (DKD) should be enthroned in the state.Like Chief Leo Stan-Ekeh, the CEO, Zinox Technologies will always say, that with Information and Communications Technology, the rich people of today will be the servants of the poor kids of today who will embrace ICT in the near future and will become the smart kids and leaders of economies tomorrow. In essence, ICT is able to turn a poor State into a rich State, a poor country to a very rich country. Chris Uwaje, a leading ICT impresario in Nigeria in his book: e-Knowledge: Time is running out! said “Information Technology is an embodiment of the biggest and most complex market known to man in the 21st century”. So the opportunities are limitless with ICT.
It is unfortunate that the government over the years has not developed a thought-out plan of development for the state especially in the area of Information and Communications Technology which is the major driver of economies.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) empowerment is a major tool for economic development. Our youths who are the future of the state, should be empowered with ICT skills.
ICT empowerment simply, is the ability to equip oneself with the latest ICT skills available around the world today in such areas like computer engineering, mobile technology, the internet, telecommunication, information technology and others, with the objective of improving ones standard of living, provide jobs for the unemployed and build the economy on the long run.
Information and Communication Technology has been in recent years the major tool used to drive economies in countries like China, Sweden, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Korea among others.
The Way Forward
As a matter of urgency, a lot needs to be done for us to harness or get the benefits of an ICT empowered state.
I applaud what the Kano State government is doing in building an ICT park in their state, Ogun State has also embraced ICT in no small measure in different areas of its economic growth and development, Anambra State on its own part is right now partnering with Microsoft to give its secondary schools basic ICT training, Akwa-Ibom State also has an ICT plan for their people, even Bayelsa state has been training their youths abroad in ICT,and many more who have started doing positive things with ICT, ours should not be different. We should learn from them.
But first, the government of the state should facilitate the development of a thought-out plan and strategy for the state in terms of ICT Development.
An ICT development blueprint for the state is urgently needed. This will outline the road -map for a lasting ICT development in the state, which will include among other things the building of ICT centers in every local government areas, Secondary Schools and Tertiary institutions where people will be trained in computer appreciation, software engineering, system networking, systems engineering, GSM technology, database administration, communication technology, information management, web technology, internet marketing and many others. We need ICT institutions in the state; we really have a dearth of professionals in these areas. Professionals in these areas are being sought after in the world today and great opportunities abound in the area of outsourcing of technology.
To supervise this development, an effective ministry of ICT should be in place and equipped to perform these functions.
Having said that, am fully aware that the government cannot do it alone, what government needs to do is to create the enabling environment and begin to woo private investors both foreign and local into the state to partner with her on ICT development for the state.
This is the opportunity for our people at home and in diaspora to contribute meaningfully in making Abia an ICT empowered state, we all will reap the dividend of this knowledge democracy and our people would have been emancipated from perennial poverty because no matter where you live today, there is no place like home!
This is the change we yearn for, and the time to make that change is now!