Information and Communication Technology for Sustainable Development in Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

The development of any nation is usually barometered by the degree and extent of the sociocultural, socioeconomic, and political improvement that are brought to bear through the enterprises of science, technology and mathematics. According to Bajah and Fariwantan in Olorundare (2007). Sustainable development leads to fulfillment of societal ideals considered relevant to the needs and aspirations of the society. Factors, which influence such developments, are based on human ability to explore, invent, and utilize. Satisfaction of spiritual, physical and material needs and the mastery of the environment are parameters of development when applied to the human society. It has been stated by several authors and scholars that the development of any nation depends very much on the advancement and application of science and technology. The role of science in the development of modern societies is not in dispute more so now that the influence of modern technological innovations is far reaching in every sphere of man's life. If Nigeria is to build an organized, self-reliant, and technologically compliant society, much emphasis has to be continually made on science and technology.

There is no doubt that Information and Communication Technology has found its niche in every sphere of Nigeria 's polity. Information and Communication Technology has been defined as "a broad based technology (including its methods, management and application) that supports the creation, storage, manipulation and communication of information" (French, 1996). According Hang and Keen in Nworgu (2007), information technology means a set of tools that helps you work with information and perform tasks related to information processing". The definition of French is more encompassing than that of Nworgu, which was limited to information processing and did not extend to the communication of ICT. Actually, the term originated as Information Technology (IT) until recently when it was thought that the communication component ought to be highlighted because of its significance. It was then that the concept transformed to Information and Communication Technology ICT (Olusanya and Oleyede, 2003).

The ICT industry according to Nworgu (2007) appears to be making significant in road into the Nigeria society. Prior to 1999, ICT resources and facilities were grossly limited in the country. Only very few wealthy Nigerians had access to these facilities and services. Internet facilities and services were rare to come by and the facsimile (ie. Fax) remained for a long time, the only means available to Nigerians for transmitting and receiving data or documents to other parts of the world. Public awareness of ICT and its application was low.

But now, the picture is entirely different. Huge investments have been made by both the public and private sectors in the ICT business in the country. Within the last three (3) years, the country has witnessed tremendous expansion in ICT resources and facilities. About 20 million Nigerians now have access to GSM. With the liberalization policy of the Federal Government, more GSM operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been licensed and are now operating in the country. Millions of Nigerians now have access to these facilities and services even in the rural communities.

A significant milestone in the development of the ICT industry in the country is the formulation of a National Information Technology Policy (NITP), which was approved in March, 2001 by the Federal Executive Council. With the enactment of this policy came the establishment of an implementing agency-the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in April 2001. This agency is charged with the responsibility of implementing Nigeria 's IT policy "as well as promote the healthy growth and development of the IT industry in Nigeria (Isoun, 2003).

The major thrust of the IT policy in Nigeria can be gleaned from its vision and mission statement. …

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