I found the idea of poverty alleviation via ICTs another issue of education. Perhaps this was a particularly narrow-minded view, which is why I chose a summary of the effects on poverty in Nigeria after privatizing the Telecommunication system. Alleviation of poverty from an economic standpoint, a symbiotic relationship is revealed between poverty alleviation and ICTD. Once the Telecommunication system was privatized IT such as mobile phones became increasingly accessible, and as the lower class gained access to these technologies they were able to utilize the economic advantages of ICT access, thus helping them alleviate their poverty. The article also mentions how access to ICTs leads to higher education and thus the alleviation of poverty.Overall the idea of an economic partnership with ICTs rather than an educational one seems, supported by this article, as a strong way to fight poverty at a national, and even eventually global level At
This week in class, we discussed differences in gender access to ICTs in the developing world. Known as the gender digital divide, studies in Africa have found that in most cases men have access more than women, especially in more urban areas, where access to ICTs is more common in general.
So, in what ways can these developing countries begin to close the gender digital divide in ICT4D?
One article from January 23, 2013, explores the significance of the Internet in recent social movements in countries like Cambodia, Nigeria, and Egypt. According to this article, Internet access is correlated to economic growth and increases economic opportunities. However, studies have found that although growth is being achieved through access to the Internet, women and girls are overwhelmingly being left behind in this trend. Helping women move forward too can lead to greater economic growth. Other studies have found that women who have access to the Internet have increased access to education, jobs, and improved health opportunities.
Through all of these studies, one country—Nigeria—recognizing the importance of the Internet in its economic growth, is planning on having countrywide access to the Internet. Through its current initiative, Nigeria will be focusing on broadband Internet, which is of better quality than narrowband capacity. Studies have also shown that there is a very close correlation between economic activities and broadband capacity at all levels of the state. Nigeria is setting an example by trying to implement broadband capacity in its entire country. Nigeria knows that it can afford to be a country where a gender digital divide exists—or any digital divide.
In a 2012 study of Jigawa, a poor state in the Northern part of Nigeria, the University of Portsmouth-based authors highlights the state government’s work on eGovernment as a strategy toward the advancement of ICT and economic development. The Nigerian government has been investing large amounts of their budget to advance their technological sector, and Jigawa is now seen as the “pacesetter” of eGovernment in Nigeria. As we discussed in class and have read in the Unwin readings, ICT promotes opportunities for development in the political, economic as well as socio-cultural sectors. The Nigerian government has begun to pave the way for ICT advancements by deregulating and privatizing the sector.
The Jigawa State government has created the targets of developing an average of 500 ICT professionals from 2010 to 2012 through local and overseas training, as well as the achievement of computerization of certain government operations such as payroll and financial management. We spoke in class about the digital divide between developing and developed countries, and one of the major goals of the Jigawa government is to bridge the digital divide between citizens with access and those without. While the Jigawa government has succeeded in reducing overhead costs with the eGovernment program and the establishment of over 30 computer-training centers, Nigeria is still “fighting to crawl… in the ICT race” (Kanya 7). Are there ways to speed up the advancement of the ICT sector, or is the digital divide between citizens and between countries something that will be nearly impossible to bridge? Read the full case study here.
Cybercrimes currently has taken a center stage in the developing world. However, as technology grows combined with globalization, cybercrimes have grown in prevalence in developing countries. Nigeria is currently experiencing a huge surge in cybercrimes causing threats to potential ICT development. There are now increase measures taken by the country’s government to ensure that the problem with cybercrime will decrease as the country aim to become an ICT hub in the African continent. At the Lagos State Chapter of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) conference this past month, attendees were trained with workshops and seminars to increase knowledge on cybercrime prevention, detection and investigation. Belonging to a series of conferences under the Continuing Professional Education program to develop strategies to curb cybercrimes in Nigeria, the Vice President of the association, Mr. Peter Ineh stated that it is urgent for IT professionals in Nigeria to be trained in strategies and ethical practices that will detect cybercrimes to help the country from suffering through ICT setbacks as it aims to further develop its ICT4D field.
The average Nigerian is a target regardless of what profession or his/her economic status. Cybercrimes affect both individual and corporate bodies that can lead to diminish consumer confidence, loss of productivity, loss of trade secrets and refusal by most merchants to include Nigeria in e-commerce transactions. Thus, it is important that ICT professionals and as many people in Nigeria as possible to be properly trained for cybercrime detection and prevention. It was also suggested that the federal government should establish agencies for specific cyber security promotions and regulatory agencies to prevent damages by cybercriminals. The main priority now should be creation of government bodies to promote awareness and partner with private organizations to advocate for cybercrime prevention.
I think with government agencies initiatives on public and private partnerships and activities, cybercrimes in Nigeria can be reduced. However, this will require laws and regulations that ensure close monitoring of this growing problem.
More Information can be found HERE
Jenny Aker of UC Berkeley published a case-study entitled “Does Digital Divide or Provide? The Impact of Cell Phones on Grain Markets in Niger.” The themes emerging from her research parallel those in the case study we covered in class on mobile phone use’s effect on fishermen in India.
“Cell phones have a greater impact on price dispersion where travel costs are higher, namely for markets that are more remote and those connected by unpaved roads. The effect is heterogeneous across time as well: cell phones have a larger impact upon price dispersion once a higher percentage of markets have cell phone coverage. Nevertheless, the evidence suggests that there are diminishing marginal returns to cell phones on price dispersion…We find that grain traders operating in markets with cell phone coverage search over a greater number of markets, have more contacts and sell in more markets. This underscores the fact that the primary mechanism by which cell phones affect market efficiency is a reduction in search costs and hence transaction costs (p. 4).”
Aker emphasizes that increased mobile phone use correlated with an increase in trader welfare and a reduction in grain prices for consumers, even in years of localized food crisis. However, as we saw in the fishermen example, it is not clear exactly how much the poorest producers benefit from the technology in comparison to the intermediaries. She writes,”…access to information technology can lead to welfare improvements, although how the gain is shared among traders, consumers and farmers is ambiguous (p. 5).”
This is a particularly important issue in terms of considering development throught ICT use in the business and industry sector. As we have discussed many times in class, the fruits of economic growth do not always reach the marginalized poor. Because thriving business and industry is one of the most sustainable sources of capital and resources which create a favorable climate for development, the sector is clearly a high priority target for ICT4D intervention. But the digital divide, existing power structures, and insufficient labor laws and policy can lead to the sector’s growth furthering income inequality instead of reducing it. In essence, mobile phone technology is clearly a great asset in providing information and stabilizing prices, but the division of benefits are not guaranteed to be fair.
In This Video, BBC examines how OLPC is working in Nigeria. The video follows children from one school, in an urban community in Nigeria and explains the pros an cons of of laptops. One of the main problems for the school was that at first, teachers did not know how to use the laptops and did not know how to incorporate them in classes of 90 or more, as many Nigerian schools are short-staffed. Yet, once the teachers found their own ways of learning how to use the laptops, students began to benefit from their use. One student said that the laptop really helped her with her reading and writing. The segment also highlighted the importance of the hardiness of the computers in the Nigerian school, where there is not a lot of resources, and intermittent electricity. Over time, through the dedication of teachers and students in this school, the OLPC project was a hard-won success. OLPC hoped to expand the program to other communities in Nigeria, but success is not guaranteed in these other communities. In the video, the minister of Education says that the focus should really be on teachers and the quality of schools before people focus on giving children laptops. He contended that while laptops can be beneficial, schools should focus on really streamlining their curriculums and getting better teachers in order to be successful in the education sector. In any case, the children of this one community seem to be benefitting from OLPC, and the venture seems to be worthwhile.