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Experts Seek Grassroots Technological Inclusiveness to Bridge Digital Divide

Panelists at the ABC 2nd Economic forum on Tuesday in Lagos

Experts at the American Business Council (ABC) forum on Tuesday advocated for Nigeria’s total digitalisation by equipping its citizens with the requisite digital capabilities to bridge the digital divide concept in the country.

They gave the advice at the 2nd ABC Economic Update with the theme: “Multi-Sectoral Impact of Emerging Technologies and Best Options for Their Adoption” in Lagos.

Mrs Olayinka West, Professor, Information Systems, Lagos Business School, said the advice was important, especially seeing how the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many businesses and organisations to become technology dependent.

According to her, Nigerian need not wait for another global external event to jolt them into accepting emerging and dynamically evolving technologies as a country.

West said that to achieve technological inclusiveness, efforts must begin from the grassroot level and then work its way up, reaching the nooks and crannies of the country.

She, however, stressed the need to innovate by building data and technological products for the Nigeria of today and in view of the projected population increase by 2050 to reap the transformational benefits of digital technology.

She explained this could be achieved by producing more multilingual technology products to accommodate the various rich language dynamics of the country.

“We can harness our human resources to a digital Nigeria to reap the big macroeconomic benefits, which the country has to offer.

“Tech can be a main source of foreign exchange as opposed to leaning on just oil for that.

“There’s however the need to take technology education to the grassroots, ensure data affordability for small businesses and then invest in requisite infrastructure to address cyber insecurities.

“Collectively, we can do more with technology for a more nourished ecosystem across all sectors of the Nigerian economy,” she said.

Mrs Oluwafunto Olasemo, Vice President, Financial Market, AFEX, noted that the country as an agrarian society had about five per cent as funding to the agricultural sector, and was without adequate data to drive agricultural information science.

Olasemo stressed that investments in agriculture technology was crucial to enable the country generate more viable foreign exchange from exports of agricultural produces.

She noted that the place of commodity as alternative assets for the country was crucial.

“Government needs to channel the right policies to get to the grassroots to reap the benefits of shared prosperity if data of the sector is properly documented,” she said.

Mr Oluwabankole Falade, Chief Regulatory and Government Relations Officer, Flutterwave, said the company was committed to providing data privacy programme around General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) and localise same to the Nigerian context.

He said the company would continue to mandatorily train staff on data safety and engage firms to audit and hack its systems to test its vulnerabilities and address them.

“Customers also have a role to play and we ensure that they are educated on basic data security infrastructure to ensure that their informations are not compromised,” he said.

Responding, Dr Falilat Jimoh, Digital Architect Manager, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), said that the agency is determination to build a flourishing digital landscape to reap the benefits of technology.

She noted the need for multi-sectoral collaboration for a seamless ecosystem to derive more values against drowning in the wave of of digital disruptions.

“NITDA has its own strategic document roadmap which harps on the need for digital inclusion to accommodate those selling even plantain on the streets.

“We want a Nigeria where everyone irrespective of who you are, where you are, the language you speak, ethnicity can derive value from technology.

“This requires innovation to enable maximum participation at the grassroot level and also requires behavioural change and trust on the part of the people to drive the inclusiveness to success,” she said. (NAN)

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