[Documents menu] Documents menu

IT Holds Potentials to Alleviate Poverty

By Oluwatosin Johnson, This Day (Lagos), 21 August 2000

Lagos—An Obafemi Awolowo University teacher, Professor Olakunle Kehinde, has emphasised the need to use IT as an avenue to speed up the poverty alleviation programme that is a major priority of the current democratic government in the country.

According to him, this is to make the human capital in the country more relevant and participate successfully in the global economy driven by IT. As we begin the new millennium with a revolution of IT, which is reaching a crescendo and a pace that is affecting and will continue to influence human life, there is need to make the most of its potential.

The don disclosed this while speaking in Lagos recently and urged the government to take advantage of IT to improve the living standard of people, noting that the world is now going through an information technology revolution.

Being a tool that contributes to the productivity of people, IT is affecting ways of carrying out business, culture, morals and in fact every facet of human existence and development, he said.

Kehinde stressed that in other to achieve maximum benefits for the betterment of the population at large, government must evolve a well coordinated ICT programme, which should be made a national priority.

He continued that when appropriately employed, it would contribute to the poverty alleviation. This is possible through reduction of illiteracy by ICT based special education centres, improved agricultural productivity, establishment of ICT based community centre to educate on self sustenance and self employment, capacity building at local and national levels, amongst others.

Alarmed that the country is lagging behind in the ICT revolution development, he attributes the hurdles to be political instability; inadequate global information infrastructure (GII); poor teaching and research facilities; low level of general salary income; extremely high cost of installing a telephone line; exorbitant cost of the personnel computer, which puts it out of reach of most potentials users, amo-ngst others.

While lamenting on the present low teledensity and its low growth rate, he pointed out that Africa has 12 per cent of the world population but 2 per cent of world's main telephone lines and 1 per cent of internet host. These factors are restricting the effective participation of the continent in the global economy.

Putting more light into strategies which can assist the country in achieving the major driving force of the global economy in this millennium, he suggested the involvement of academics and the private sector in ICT and curriculum development with a well articulated inter governmental agreement.

Others are, establishment of a national network with facilities to access internationally accepted database; relevant national centre that will articulate ICT programmes that is well funded; specific national laboratory; and immediate break in government monopoly in providing Global Information Infrastructure (GII) in the country, amongst others.