At the start of the new millennium, more than thirty years after Pier Giorgio Perotto invented the first desktop computer and a decade after the leading economies of the world had set up national information infrastructures to provide foundation for an information economy, Africa opened itself up to ICT. The information age had created new wealth and helped in sustaining the growth of the economies in North America and Europe, it was only a matter of time before Africa joined the rest of the world as the next ICT frontier. Home to more than one billon people and suffering from economic and developmental problems brought on by a history of bloody civil wars and post- colonial political difficulties, the continent needed every benefit the digital revolution offered.
Today, not only has ICT established itself in Nigeria as vibrant sector of the economy, it has proven more than effective in addressing the digital divide and reducing poverty. Survey has shown that countries that use ICT grow faster, and are more productive and profitable than those that do not. It translates into a high demand for investments and presents a tremendous opportunity for innovative public -private partnerships that in turn leads to jobs.
At the center of my political philosophy is youth development and seeing as ICT plays a critical role in development of societies, I have devoted my energy into investing in creating ICT focused initiatives for the young people in my senatorial district. At the last ICT training programme that held across the 7 L.G.As of my senatorial District from the 11th of January to the 2nd of February, thousands of young people benefitted from the knowledge of the ICT professionals and subsequently developed IT skills that have proven useful in their lives.
I continue to put ICT at the fore of my youth development plans through partnerships with established ICT organizations in the country to bring the best of ICT training for my constituents. In a few weeks, another ICT training programme is set to take off in my senatorial district. My recent visit to the office of one of Nigeria’s leading ICT hubs, Ventures Africa was to explore the possibility of a partnership that will see to the establishment of technology hubs for the youth of my senatorial district. I believe that ICT as a tool for development can drastically reduce poverty, especially in our rural areas.
I strongly believe that ICT is a panacea to unemployment and underdevelopment of our country. In a country like Nigeria where majority of the population live below the poverty line, ICT can be a new source for the creation of quality jobs, economic development and prosperity. As a relatively young sector, it has managed to contribute 4.7 trillion to the country’s GDP. If more efforts were directed towards investing in the sector, its contributions will no doubt be more than the current sum. As one of the forces that drive globalization and the fourth industrial revolution, ICT must be prioritized. Let all hands be on deck to ensure that Nigeria and Africa are not left behind in the development race.
Senator Stella Oduah OON