16 June 2014

Nigeria: How Digital Divide Has Projected Digital Spread, Olufuye

At the just concluded 17th Session of the United Nations Commission for Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), held in Geneva, Switzerland, the Chairman of Africa Information and Communication Technologies Alliance (AfICTA), Dr Jimson Olufuye, has said that the much trumped digital divide may have given way to digital spread where existing ICTs know-how, innovation and methodologies are enabling digital advantage to those that embrace those technologies" thereby projecting a digital spread.

At the forum where the Minister of Communication Technology and Supervising Minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Omobola Johnson was elected as the Chairperson of CSTD .

The immediate President of Information Technology Association of Nigeria, ITAN, in his presentation during the forum on ICTs and ICT for Development (ICT4D) for inclusive socio-economic development underscored the significant role ICTs have played since the outcomes of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) 2005 to enable a more inclusive social, economic and even political development of all people.

"The much trumped Digital Divide may have given way to Digital Spread where existing ICTs know-how, innovation and methodologies are enabling digital advantage to those that embrace those technologies" thereby projecting a digital spread" he explained.

According to him, "where a nation is low in any particular development indices is not because the solution is not available but their unwillingness to embrace such solutions might be as a result of a Digital Peace of Mind".

He cited the example of the success of mobile money in Kenya (m-pesa) which drew global acclaim but yet see slow adoption elsewhere probably due to a digital peace of mind with payment solution. Similar mobile based solutions are emerging in developing countries.

He indicated that the concept of a digital peace of mind is not unconnected with a user's choice of technology to enable his/her sufficient inclusion in the information society but noted that, "more still need to be done to connect the next 3billion people to the Internet" he said.

He also cited the on-going National Broadband Plan implementation in Nigeria and the Rwanda nationwide 4G infrastructural roll-out as examples of what are possible.

While the CSTD charged by the United Nations to report on the implementation of the WSIS Outcomes prepares its report for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2015, he recommended that ICTs should be recognized in their report as the key enabler of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.

He congratulated the CSTD for the excellent WSIS follow-up works they have been doing which inspired the establishment in 2012 of AfICTA as the voice of ICT private sector in Africa.

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