Information Communication Technology has contributed positively to socio-economic development of Nigeria. Extension of ICT services to rural areas has generated economic and social benefits which include social change, connectivity, decentralization and accessibility.
The growth of industries and enhancement of social activities is dependent not only on adequate skilled labour but also effective implementation of ICT programmes.
The ability of developing countries to thrive in global economy depends on the nation’s objectives of ICT policies and their ability to properly implement such policies. A good number of workshops, conferences and seminars have been sponsored by the Nigerian government and the country has made tremendous progress in the convergence of telecommunications with computer technology by linking production to industrialization but there is still more to do.
Nigeria needs to step up its game and adopt a strategy which targets industrialization through applications of microelectronics, computer products, services in management, finance, health care, distribution, manufacturing, as well as education. The success will have an impact on the nation’s production patterns, trades, and the social and political environment.
Giving ICT its rightful place will affect the heartland of the business life of the people positively. The advent of the new information technologies has opened many doors for socio-economic and political development in many countries and Nigeria must tag along. It must be noted that ICT does not develop in isolation rather it develops in accordance with the industrial environment it encounters. If not, the impact of ICT will be inconsequential to the nation’s economy.
Industrialization and technological development in this information age through a well-defined ICT will go a long way in aiding a nation’s economic growth. It is important to note that regulation and privatization policies will yield no fruit in the development of the nation’s economy if the implementation of ICT policies is not given a major priority.
The awareness for self-reliance and self-sufficiency is gaining momentum in developing countries therefore, the promotion of ICT as an essential catalyst for social and economic development should be on the high gear.
The economic benefit of telecommunications is enormous, both as a growing industry in its own right, and in terms of its influence on economic development. Telecommunications is making the world a smaller place and creating new information highways of high speed electronic data exchange. The economic implication of ICT are far-reaching; mobile telephones, satellite television and automatic teller machines are just a few examples of the way in which ICT is changing how people communicate, become informed or do business.
ICT investments affect economic activity. Telecommunications brings about important technological change, openness, connectivity, decentralization and accessibility. It brings people together, links like-minded groups, and saves cost of transports as business transactions can be made over the phone without necessarily crossing the border. It promotes self-employment such as phone booths and business centres.
ICT network is the basic facility through which business needs can be satisfied. Commerce is essentially an information processing activity, effective buying, selling and brokerage rely on the continual supply of up-to-date information regarding the availability of prices of goods and services. Even farmers need information on weather conditions, disease outbreaks and new agricultural techniques.
ICT has changed the way transactions are conducted, information is circulated and the way we educate and inform ourselves. It has also reduced inequalities of opportunity between rural areas and the urban centres with the introduction of Internet Services, which delivers educational programmes to remote locations. Educational institutions are becoming more dependent on telecommunications to access super computers and broadcast instructions.
ICT policies in its economic and social development roles are just catalyst meant to aid national development. The benefits of its policies to a national economy should be measured as an input to other economic activities and more importantly should also be considered as complementary to other sectors.
The role of ICT as a gateway to strong market economy cannot be undervalued; no wonder the Minister of communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu said that Information Communications Technology (ICT) industry has great impact on the Nigeria citizens.
He said the challenges of service deficiencies, from broadband penetration to last mile fibre optic connectivity, and infrastructure deficit are preventing Nigerians from gaining affordable and reliable access.
It is indeed an irony that despite the huge potential, commensurate impact of the ICT sector it has not been felt in the lives of many Nigerians.
Shittu has taken cogent steps to ensure that the communications sector is focused on information technology infrastructure development, promotion of ICT local content, ICT deployment in government, extending ICT access to Nigerians and providing an enabling environment for competitiveness in the industry.
Shittu affirmed that the afore mentioned would be tackled by adopting the Social, Mobile, Analytic, Radical Openness, and Trust approach “SMART”.
The “Social” aspect involves re-inventing government interaction with the citizens personally and collectively in such a way that it would involve improving and innovating delivery of services by government.
The “Mobile” approach has to do with government’s mobility and agility in responding to changing times using the latest mobile technologies to deliver information and services and obtain citizen’s input and participation by Apps, SMS, and social media amongst others.
It also intends to build an “Analytic” knowledge driven government by ensuring our national identity database is harmonized and customized to each citizen.
The ministry also canvases for a government that practices “Radical Openness’’ with prudence such that accountability and transparency in government would be redefined and engage citizens in participatory governance as well as enable businesses to innovate new services via e-government deployment.
Also of paramount importance is a government you can “Trust”.
“Our government will engender trust by deploying ICT to effectively secure our cities our critical national infrastructure, our govrnment shall be available and we shall protect our partners’ privacy”, Shittu stated.
In the same vein Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), recently unveiled a road-map intended to promote innovation, investment, competition, empowerment of communication platforms as well as maximizing the power of information and communication technology to grow the economy, create jobs and enhance national combativeness through the deployment of broadband infrastructure to facilitate roll out broadband service.
ICT is an integral part of modern life. It gives almost instant access to facts, materials and booms our businesses. It is vital that if Nigeria must succeed as a nation it must enhance the life of its citizens by taking advantage of the breadth of knowledge and opportunity that ICT offers.