The advent of the 21st century has seen a number of technological developments which have affected almost every aspect of our lives. At the core of this, is the ever growing use of ICT in all realms of life from the workplace to the sports field, schools and on a personal or social level. ICT is defined as a global network in which ideas are exchanged or where information and knowledge is shared through communication devices like cell phones, and technology like computers, to connect people. The power of ICT is likened to the impact that access to electricity and clean running water in a community has had on human development. In the field of educational development, which can be described as any novel action which seeks to enhance the efficiency and productivity of both the teaching and learning of any particular subject, ICT has thus become a core part of the process.
Information communication technology has been described as the economy of the future. West Africa is slightly lagging behind compared to East Africa and South Africa. It’s not a question of how many people do ICT or what has come out of it; it’s more of a mindset. In East Africa the youth consider ICT as a way of building a career but the same can’t be said about West Africa. It still has more to do to embrace ICT in the future.
The major hindrance to ICT awareness is illiteracy; people are not fully aware they think that ICT is just something for a few and they do not see how it’s driving the world today. Access to technology is also minimal; people lack access to the current technology that’s transforming the business modules causing disruptions all over the world. People don’t see that ICT is the way for them to go, to help participate in the global economy. Unless this is addressed by providing access to technology, then West Africa will still Lark behind.
Digital literacy is the trend that West Africa should pursue; making sure that people can access technology anywhere at any time, that the right technology is being offered e.g computing and artificial intelligence, as well as block chain technology which was originally devised for the digital currency, Bitcoin. The tech community is now finding other potential uses for block chain technology which is set to transform the internet much like the one done by the internet to information.
Illiteracy could be tackled through public private partnerships (PPPs) in which youths are offered free courses, free tuition and are trained on different ICT aspects. It’s about collaboration with other communication bodies like IBM, this might see the coders and the developers be at the top of the economy in the future. The future of the ICT should become a self-sustaining model with trained people making a difference in problem solving contributing to the growth of the economy in West Africa.
The use of ICT may not be the solution of the problems that currently beset the economy in West Africa and many challenges do remain in terms of implementing ICT. However, the use of ICT can greatly influence and improve the productivity and efficiency in the economy sector. This is especially so in the global world based on a knowledge economy which is ever changing, dynamic, and looking more and more for individuals who come up with solutions to some of the greatest challenges West Africa faces today. The use of ICT will not only enhance the growth of the economy in West Africa but in the long run will give the people a comparative advantage in coping with and competing in an ever damaging labor market and finding solutions to some of West Africa’s development challenges.
Written by Amina Martha.