‘F’ings Just gotta change

January 17, 2010

These were the famous words of a radical politician of the left who is, probably, now retired. Things changed alright, but in which direction? Perhaps not in one that might have impressed the speaker. It would be rather interesting to hear his thoughts on the events of the past two years.

Indeed things are changing and very fast too. As technological innovation gathers even more frenetic pace, it may be a stretch too far for one’s imagination what the ‘ordinary person’ would do should they be afforded the illimitable opportunities Broadband Internet Access offers. The politicians would tell us that the ordinary person is far too bogged down by the daily grind of trying to provide the basics of food, clothing and shelter for themselves and their families to care about ‘broadband’. And perhaps they have a point. But the nature of our politics and politicians makes it harder to decipher where the line between this approach as an abstraction of reality ends and where upholding it as a justification for inaction begins. To ‘bring home’ the reality and its possibilities, a few guys got together recently to discuss broadband and its effects on the basics of food, security, industry, transportation and more. Is somebody listening?

Let us consider some alternatives.

It’s been suggested that technology should be encouraged, developed and applied. One method for consideration is that agencies of government that superintend over technology  creation and development coalesce and administered under one bureaucracy – joined up government – if you wish. This is  a model which if implemented with principles and conviction will deliver good management of the resources of technology. Another method is to have a concentric grouping of those agencies that develop technology together and those who regulate and motivate its application.

It has been suggested that the latter model is good for developing economies. Nigeria is one of such economies though economic development and growth pattern in other sectors make that claim less discernible. But at least on the issue of telecommunications and information technology, it is an emerging market which demands and deserves management.

If the emerging technologies especially in the ICT’s are not properly managed, society suffers as it is either isolated from the proverbial global village or its people pay exceedingly to realize the benefits of emerging technologies. This is exactly the motive driving the IT revolution that is taking place in East Africa.

There are two key issues that we need to address. Firstly, the need for a revised policy framework which all parties need to look up to particularly for investors as it allows them to map out long term investment plans and how that translates and implemented in the market. And secondly, a corresponding administrative and regulatory framework in which these technologies are implemented  which some people call restructuring. In both cases, the ‘ordinary person’ has little role to play but government should play its role and govern in the interest of all rather than narrow itself to issues of winning elections as has been the case in Nigeria.

If the past two years are anything to go by, the country has shown little in way of direction in ICT policy re-formulation. If it is intended, it is yet to be seen. This lack of direction and review of how the sector is being managed for better results engenders an exclusion of minds that can see the fuller picture exacerbated by the arguments that ICT is fine but intangible and inconsequential in comparison to roads, food and ‘wining’ elections.

One morning this week, a TV channel took on the issues of federal roads, ASUU strike, decaying hospitals, and Saudi Arabia visit. I swiftly changed channels desperately trying not to have negativity ruin the long day ahead only to be confronted by more misery on another channel where the discussion was about the refusal to assist London’s Metropolitan Police to prosecute some charlatans of the land; industrial action by primary school teachers across the land and 90% failure of all secondary school students who sat the NECO examination in Sokoto State. My third escape channel was reporting on assassinations, kidnappings, 0-1, 0-2 serial losses  for our under-20’s in Egypt and the like. Such a catalogue of negativity begs the question ‘How can all these happen in one single country?’ And these are only the ones that make it to the newsrooms!

I suppose it is the case that ‘bad news sells’. By extension we can deduce that Telecom ICT does not get a mention because for all intent and purposes, it is the one sector that has been fairly well run and has a good story to tell. The mind boggles at such complacency. Presumably we will start talking when we are dragged to where we started from.

”, indeed just gotta change? Never have truer words been spoken.

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