Saturday, 6 April 2013

ICT Jagbajantis: the Webs Pulling against ICT Creativity in Nigeria
Convergence describes the relationship between content creation, its intermediate distribution and ultimate consumption. Technology has found application in a pool of dynamic fields including media. Today, books, magazines, newspapers and radio & TV are moving into online portals called computed clouds where uncountable consumers can reach them. The preference of service subscription is rapidly increasing and reflecting in the mode of content purchase by consumers. With the pervasive acquisition of smart phones and portable internet devices, even the naive would easily identify this as a future trend. Africans are doing well in this regard; at least, IT products/service offerings like MXit, Obami, Jobberman, 2go, Motribe, PesaPal, 10Layer, to mention a few, practically corroborate this opinion. Nigeria isn’t doing badly either. Two of the highest broadband communication channels in Africa, MainOne and Glo1 submarine cables, are owned by Nigerian companies. However, ICT is a factor that ensures that no economic sector remains the same. So, things will keep changing and people must keep adapting.

By Glasbergen

NYSC should be given some kudos for creating ICT community development units for corps members who are interested in sharing ICT knowledge within their local communities. However, it would be better if NYSC actually creates an interactive innovation competition between corps members themselves; partly to unleash innate potential and also encourage knowledge transfer. 

But it is important to catch them young. In the United States, primary school kids are already learning creative ICT through programming tools like MIT’s Scratch. We should be past the realm of debating the continuity or otherwise of UTME & NECO. School curricula, especially for public secondary schools need to be redressed. Even the present ones are often disregarded or boycotted by teachers who sometimes prioritise extra-occupation jobs over their primary responsibilities. Maybe we are quick to forget that a standard that is faulty coupled with implementers that are suffering will tend to produce educated illiterates.

We need to extend ICT services to rural communities at prices that are pocket-friendly. This is partly a responsibility of the government. Policies that encourage the planting of fibre cables or provisioning of microwave transmission to places outside highly populated metropolises should be developed and implemented. If the cost of offering services to people in the rural areas will create irrecoverable expenses for internet and telecom service providers, none of them would extend their service offerings to those regions. Again, the cost of doing business honestly in Nigeria is still high; companies complain about multiple taxes, several agencies discourage business persons through corrupt practices and special hidden stakeholders such as militants, kidnappers and hoodlums both vandalise business infrastructures and threaten employees’ lives. Eventually, more people flood into metro cities and the imminent population congestion in several urban centres continues to grow into a daytime reality.

During a recent official visit to Co-creation hub (CC Hub) in Lagos, I discovered what other young people outside Lagos might be missing and couldn’t help but ask my host some personal questions. From my findings, CC Hub is more like an open techie garden that accommodates academics, agencies, investors and inventors who plough ideas and incubate them towards solving many of the customised problems existing in Nigeria. I am yet to be a beneficiary of the organisation but I know that through CC Hub, young people meet with their peers virtually or physically to work together on tech projects. Days later, CNN's Errol Barnett had his visit published too.

I think we need more CCHub-like groups in Nigeria and not just in Lagos. After the similitude of India and China, population is an obvious blessing for Nigeria. But if we do not find ways to create population leverage, the negative effects associated with this strength will produce jagbajantis fruits. May such fruits never come in multiples.