ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

Role of technology in alleviating poverty [ICT Clinic]

Africa is a rather complex continent and this stems from many factors. How can one relate to the fact that a continent is so blessed, yet so terribly poor? I write this piece with a very heavy heart considering the fact that innocent Africans are being killed and maimed by fellow Africans for reasons one cannot justify. How can it be explained in today’s world that people are being burned alive because of one suspicion or the other? It is indeed hurtful and I call on the South African authorities to nip this in the bud because no one has the monopoly of violence.

That said, it all comes back to one fact – majority of Africans are poor and it is high time leaders from various African countries sat down to address the issue of poverty. The African continent, with a massive population of over one billion people has more than 500 million of this number living below the global poverty line of $1.25 a day. The first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 1) talks about eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. However, available data does not show that Africa is winning the war against poverty.

The burning question that should be on the mind of any concerned Nigerian is how do we change the poverty narrative for Nigeria? In my case, I simply ask myself, what are some of the practical ways that we can apply technology towards getting more people out of poverty? This is because the high levels of poverty simply mean we are seating on multiple kegs of gun powder and we must collectively do the needful or be ready to face the consequences.

A few weeks ago, I attended an event organised by Softcom, in partnership with the National Social Investment Office, with the theme, ‘Combating Poverty: Role of Technology in driving social change in Africa’, the key note speaker at the event was the Senior Special Assistant, to the President on Job Creation and Youth Employment, Afolabi Imoukhuede, who I know is passionate about creating more opportunities for young people, which is evident going by the results with the N-power programme so far.

In his keynote, he highlighted five key areas that he believes technology can help transform the country, namely; digital literacy, education, agriculture, banking and identity. This piece simply expands the thoughts shared by this consummate professional with the aim of once again stressing the need for Nigeria to step up its game and truly lead Africa.

Digital literacy

The availability of the Internet, social media and acquisition of digital skills that empower digital literacy fortunately is not too expensive. Today, many youths are involved in producing, writing, creating images and designs made possible by technology. Youths are very much inclined to technology, hence, they form the larger part of the population that has embraced digital literacy.

In 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act defined digital literacy skills as a workforce preparation activity. Digital literacy is required for employment to some blue collar jobs now that technology is cheaper and available. With more unskilled population on the continent, digital literacy skill acquisition should be a deliberate plan, enforced by the government at secondary school levels.

Education

Years back, schools used to depend on several desktop computers to empower their students for ICT. Today, the entire classroom has been transformed into a virtual class, where students can learn at their convenience. It is even no news that some people have actually gone through an institution without — Finish Reading on the Punch

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