ICT — A Veritable Tool for Bridging the Digital Divide

ICT is the acronym for Information and Communications Technology. It is a big factor when determining the social-economic development of a nation; the developed countries of the world have reached enviable height in the development and deployment of Information and Communications Technology solutions. Computers and its allied product are very good tools for solving most of the major problems facing the world. Keeping records in very accurate ways to make forecasts for future purposes has been of help in developed countries; hence they have been able to harness the potentials of computers in eradicating ills such as poverty, infant mortality, high crime rate, e.t.c. using statistical data accumulated from their database over the years. The developing countries in contrast do not even have correct population figures and this would surely affect effective and accurate planning for the present and the future, it’s even a mystery how most of these countries come about their annual budget when most births and deaths are not registered. ICT ensures many channels of information dissemination, through mobile phones, emails, the World Wide Web, News groups, e.t.c.
Many developing countries have abundance of natural resources like petroleum, diamond and gold, yet they are very poor and their citizens languish in poverty. The reason is very simple; the wealth of a country can no longer be measured by the abundance of its natural resources but by the quality of its citizenry. We can only get quality citizens in a nation where there is a free flow of communication, where access to information is very easy. A very veritable and cheap way of getting access to Information is the Internet which is still a luxury in most under-developed countries. Information brings about knowledge and knowledge itself brings power! For the under-developed world to start thinking of reaching the height of their developed counterparts, they need to embrace the power and wonder of Information and Communications Technology.
It’s not news that there is a very big digital divide that separates the developed and the under-developed countries of the world and anyone who attempts bridging the gap carves the image of trying a white elephant project. But the fact is that through ICT, the gap could be gapped. ICT is so universal in nature, Cisco routers in the USA are the same in Togo, and Linux in the UK is not different from the one in South Africa. So, introducing ICT properly to the ailing world will ensure a very fast convergence process for them.
As expected, a good level of development is noticed in the developing countries, this confirms that socio-economic powers as well as ICT walk together. Many youths in the developed countries are now empowered by their knowledge of computers and the availability of telecommunication systems like the global system of mobile communication (GSM). This virtually links these youths with the global world. This is not the same for the youth in rural areas who have not even seen a computer mouse before. The simple truth is that most African countries have more rural areas than urban areas, which means that the few cities that are ICT enabled do not leave us with the true picture of the situation. There are more people living in the rural areas in Africa. Because of the disadvantaged position of the rural youth; his lack of access to basic amenities and also is his drought of information, a lot has to be done to raise his standard. The future of a country is in the hands of its Youth. If a nation is not developing its youth, then it is paving way for a bad future. Apart from giving them access to Information, ICT will also provide job opportunities for them. A country like India is a great example, the ICT industry in India rakes in Billions of dollars annually. This will surely bring about job creation and economic revolutions.
For the developing countries to put themselves in the map of the world and turn themselves into countries with quality citizens there is a need to employ the integration of ICT into their day to day life. The world is now a global digital village, through the use of technology, the remotest village in Rwanda could be linked to the rest of the world via satellite equipments. Any place where there is no Internet facility is not part of this big global village. Professor Phillip Emeagwali, the one referred to by Bill Clinton as the father of the Internet has a very interesting theory about the future of the world. He is of the opinion that the time would come when the personal computer would disappear and the super computer would take over. He also believes that the Internet and the supercomputer would be one. His theory is that human beings will one day be the components of the supercomputer or the Internet, hence there would no longer be emails but telepathic mails, and in 10,000 years, human beings would have achieved digital immortality. I am very optimistic of this kind of development, though Professor Emeagwali knows that it might not come to pass in our generation, but my fear is that if the theory becomes a reality in future, then some races are sure to be cut off. People in rural areas are in danger of being left behind. (P. Emeagwali- My search for the holy grail of Immortality, April 2003)

(The concluding part will follow next)