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Ict “Tools” for Poverty Eradication and Economic Growth in Nigeria

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Abstract

This paper uses “tools” to include the computer hardware, software, and connectivity that we lump together under the title Information and Communication Technology (ICT). ICTs facilitate the creation, storage, management and dissemination of information by electronic means. This definition includes radio, television, telephone, fax, computer and internet. Newspaper and other print media do not fall under that definition but are strongly influence by electronic means (online news). In recent time, the understanding of poverty has undergone significant changes. It’s no longer viewed as being restricted to material deprivation, but encompasses intangible aspects, such as lack of access to schooling or health care, vulnerability towards external events, or being excluded from decision making processes. This approaches to poverty is also reflected in the MDGs, which addresses the multiple and interrelated dimension of poverty and development. Poverty eradication in this study is looked at eradication of poverty in terms of facilitating empowerment, promoting opportunity and enhancing security. The paper then proposed how ICTs can be used to eradicate poverty and promote economic growth towards empowerment, opportunity and security.
Greener Journal of Educational Research ISSN: 2276-7789 Vol. 2 (1), pp. 013-019, January 2012.
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Research Article
Ict “Tools” for Poverty Eradication and Economic
Growth in Nigeria
1Yekini N. A., 2Rufai M.M., 3Adetoba B.T., 4Akinwole A.K., 5Ojo O.
Department of Computer Technology, Yaba College of technology, Lagos, Nigeria.
2m_rufai@yahoo.com, 3tiwabj@yahoo.com, 4Agneskike2006@yahoo.com, 5Wajuola2001@yahoo.com
Corresponding Author’s Email: 1asafe2012@gmail.com
ABSTRACT
This paper uses “tools” to include the computer hardware, software, and connectivity that we lump together under the
title Information and Communication Technology (ICT). ICTs facilitate the creation, storage, management and
dissemination of information by electronic means. This definition includes radio, television, telephone, fax, computer
and internet. Newspaper and other print media do not fall under that definition but are strongly influence by electronic
means (online news). In recent time, the understanding of poverty has undergone significant changes. It’s no longer
viewed as being restricted to material deprivation, but encompasses intangible aspects, such as lack of access to
schooling or health care, vulnerability towards external events, or being excluded from decision making processes. This
approaches to poverty is also reflected in the MDGs, which addresses the multiple and interrelated dimension of poverty
and development. Poverty eradication in this study is looked at eradication of poverty in terms of facilitating
empowerment, promoting opportunity and enhancing security. The paper then proposed how ICTs can be used to
eradicate poverty and promote economic growth towards empowerment, opportunity and security.
Keywords: Empowerment, ICTs, Opportunity, Security.
1. Introduction
Poverty is the opposite of wellbeing. Beyond lack of income, multidimensional concept of poverty also refers to dis-
advantages in access to land, credit and services (e.g. health, and services), vulnerability (towards violence, external
economic shock, and natural disaster), powerlessness and social exclusion.
The World Bank report for 2000/2001 uses the standard of one US dollar per day to draw the line of extreme
/absolute poverty. Considering that we have about 1.3 billion people around the world in poverty circle. Using Nigeria
as a case study and considering the inflation rates between year 2000 & 2011. One can then put the assertion in the
report at average of 5 dollars per day. If that should be the case then we may have above 80% of Nigerian living
below poverty line and this could have negative effect on the economic growth of the nation.
Modern approaches to poverty go beyond World Bank report of 2000/2001 because reliance on income
terms alone misses many facet of the everyday life of the poor and therefore unsatisfactory. Therefore poverty is not
only restricted to material deprivation, but encompasses intangible aspects, such as lack access to schooling, health
care, vulnerability towards external events or being excluded from decision making processes.
Based on the discussion, there are 3 concepts that determine level of poverty and for poverty to be
eradicated in any society these three concepts must be facilitated in the society; 1empowerment, 2opportunity and
3enhancing security. If people are empowered, there will be opportunity in the land and security will be enhanced
then poverty will be eradicated or reduce to miniature therefore leads to economic growth.
The diagram that follows illustrate the requirements to archive the concept listed i.e to make ICTs effective
anti-poverty tool.
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Figure 1: Illustrate the requirements to make ICTs effective anti-poverty tool.
This study investigate into how ICTs can be use to facilitates empowerment, promote opportunity and enhancing
security.
2. BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
2.1. Gender Equality
The gender equality concern is base on the fact that majority of the poor people in Nigeria are women. Villages were
selected in selected states across Nigeria where the researcher carry out his studies and it was discovered that
larger percentages of the people in the selected villages are poor and women are more than men.
Table 2.1 Data on selected villages across Nigeria
2.2. Sustainability
There is need for sustainable project or institution to be able to deliver benefit in long term. Sustainable development
must take into consideration; social, economic and environmental dimension of development. In this case
sustainability is multidimensional and different stakeholders have different vision which may leads to poverty
reduction. In this case I perceived that some Nigerians are poor because of lack of sustainability and political
affiliation.
States Village Population Women Men Poverty Level in %
Osun Wasimni 3,000 1860 1,140 50
Oyo Osegere 1715 1063 652 59
Jos Jibu 917 568 348 98
Ebonyi Afikpo 2813 1744 1,069 76
Imo Awomma 1718 1065 653 76
Anambra Orafuite 1314 999 119 67
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2.3. Poverty eradication strategies in Nigeria
The major question here is how to mainstream ICTs in national poverty eradication. For country like Nigeria, our
leader know quite alright that larger percentage of population were poor. The development of national poverty
reduction (not eradication) started with Obasanjo regime 1999-2007. The schemes PRS poverty reduction scheme
was introduced and some money was allocated to the scheme. The approach relates poverty concept to reliance on
income as money was given to beneficiaries of the schemes to start a business or improve on their current
business/market. Still yet Nigerians are still poor.
2.4. Enabling ICTs policy environment
This include respect for freedom of expression, diversity and free flow of information, competition in ICTs
infrastructures provision, including local content, and use of cost effective and locally adaptable software including
the promotion of free/open source solution and open content where feasible. How far as Nigeria achieved this?
2.5. Illiteracy and poverty
It was discovered that some of the poor people in Nigeria are illiterates in table 2.1, 100% of the people in the sample
villages does not meet the minimum requirement of MDGs indicator for education as none of people above 30yrs
finished primary school and 75% of the age range 5-15 years are not in school. Some of the data to support this
assertion is shown at the end of section 3 of this study.
3. Pro-poor ICTs policy environment
3.1. What pro-ICTs regulations are required for up-scaling ICT towards poverty eradication in Nigeria?
The national regulatory environments for ICTs are based on natural visions of challenge, approaches and priorities
that are absolutely crucial for success. However ICT regulation is not part of the problem. Any government committed
to poverty eradication as top priority must explicitly mainstream it in regulations and policies relating to ICTs. There
are number of options for moving into the direction of pro-poor policies; 1freedom of expression, 2building up an
independent regulator, 3competition in ICT infrastructure, 4application of cost effective an locally adaptable tool such
as open/free source software, 5pro-poor license obligation for services providers and operators, 6making rural
telephoning profitable by supportive policies, 7ensuring an effective service provision, 8creating space for local
initiatives and policies, 9enabling community radio.
The importance of an enabling ICTs environment is internationally recognized. For instance international
institute for communication and development, on the basis of their extensive field experience, strongly argues in
favor of embedding ICT related activities in an enabling environment in order to influence the sector.
3.2. Data to improve on pro-poor ICT in Nigeria environ for poverty eradication in Nigeria
In other to enable pro-poor ICT in Nigeria environ, there is need for significant improvement on the data in table 1 & 2
below year by year.
1. Data on Enabling Environment
GOVERNANCE
POLITY INDEX Democratic
PRESS FREEDOM Partially free
POVERTY ERADICATION
YEAR IN PLACE Since year2000
INCLUSION OF ICT No
INDEPENDENT REGULATOR for ICTs Yes
AFFORDABILITY 29%
ICT LEVEL OF COMPETITION 70%
OPEN SOURCE Data not available
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2. Data on Millennium Development Goal
MDGs 1
Poverty
70.25
Nigerian is below poverty line of
1$ per day
MDGs 2
Education 22%
literacy 17%
MDGs 3
Gender equality 1 out of 100
ICT Indicators
Radio/television 3 out of 200
Telephone 19.2% of entire population sampled
Personal computer 2% of entire population sampled
3.3. Comment & Source of Data
Data in The table 1was sourced from government policy and available record from newspaper, magazine, electronic
media & processing of data obtained from sample population. It presents data as in polity index (democratic or
autocratic). Some of problems of Nigeria have been attributed to military regime; there is no doubt that since Nigeria
return to democracy poverty level has reduced to some extent. Press freedom its significantly improved compared to
late 90s just of recent the national assembly pass a bill on freedom of information which is synonymous to freedom of
press. Poverty eradication, in the year 2000, Obasanjo regime introduce poverty reduction scheme to alleviate
problem of poverty in Nigeria.
Data in The table 2 was solely sourced by processing of data obtained from sampled population. It present
data on millennium development goals MDGs—1, 2 & 3. MDG1 give the proportion of population living below a
dollar per day, MDG2 give data on education as in net enrolment ration in primary education & literacy rate as in age
between 15-24, both sexes having completed a primary courses. MDG3 give data gender equality as in population of
seat own by community development organization or town hall meeting, ICT indicator as in how many people have
access to radio, telephone and personal computer.
4. ICTs for Poverty Eradication
The basic concept that needs to be improved on in other to eradicate poverty in Nigeria are: empowerment of
citizenry, opportunity and enhancement of security. This section then discussed how ICT could be used to achieve
that as follows;
4.1. Empowerment (ICT and political participation of poor)
The question here is how to give poor people a stronger voices and recognition at all level of decision making in
Nigeria by using ICTs.
E-governances: This harnesses ICTs for the government work processes, information sharing and services
delivery. Partial benefit are making the government machinery more efficient and effective, improving service delivery
and revenue collection, and empowering citizens by increasing transparency and accountability. For instance the use
of ICTs in lands record management could give government focus to planning based on population needs. And
elementary condition is that government communicates in national languages and these languages can be use on
internet. Investigation reveals that larger percentages of Nigeria population leaves in rural areas and can only
communicate in their local languages. ICTs can facilitates communication with this people in their mother tongues.
GSM providers like MTN allow their subscribers to choose among English language, and 3 major Nigeria languages
i.e. Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. Government can also forward information to this people through their chosen language.
This will empower them and make them feel to belong to Nigerian decision making.
Deconcentration and decentralization of the public sector can be greatly facilitated by use of ICTs. Effective
decentralization contributes to people’s participation in the political processes of their country. It can also contribute
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to material well being of the people. Effective of ICTs based deconcentration and district level planning is mainly
determined by the political will to truly decentralized and power sharing. This will facilitates empowerment, poverty
eradication and economic growth.
Government interaction with the citizen: ICTs can contribute to the empowerment of individual citizen as well
as the community level. People who are well informed about their entitlements and rights are different clients in
service delivery. Citizen who cooperate in an organized way at the village level or nationally; trade union, market
women association etc. gain leverage in public and political processes.
In summary individual government, groups as in civil society, trade unions or organized labour must imbibe the use
of ICT to empower their people, so that they can participate effectively in their society. To achieved this there must
be e-governances, decentralization of public sector through ICTs, and using ICTs to communicate with citizen
regularly.
4.2. Opportunity: ICTs and Income generation for poor
The major concern here is how to enhance income generation by the poor through ICTs.
ICT has a major sector of economy under favorable conditions provide access to relevant information and
knowledge, reduce costs of production and transaction and enhance communication. For employment and income
generation towards poverty eradication. ICT can promote livelihood, such as increasing productivity, improving
market access, and creation of employment opportunities and higher chances of finding jobs. We have some
graduates roaming about the streets with their certificate without jobs. Some of these graduates if the have ICT/IT
experiences such as ability to use computer and some application programs on it solve problem related to their filed
this will enhances their chances of getting job and be out of poverty. This is because operations in many
organizations public sector and multinationals in Nigeria are now comprised.
The benefit of ICTs in context of production and empowerment is not limited to formal sector and
multinationals companies alone. It can also be extended to benefit poor people. This people can venture into small
businesses such, phone call center, phone accessories sales etc. and government must provide enabling
environment for these poor people strive.
4.3. Security: (ICTs and education of the poor)
One of the reasons why some people are poor is because they are not educated. This section is concern about how
to use ICTs to up-scaling both formal and informal education in Nigeria. With education for education by education
everything is possible (Yekini 2011). If you are educated, you will know that poverty is not good, you will know your
rights in all ramifications and you will be secured in any form of insecurities.
EFA (education for all) an international body committed to bringing the benefits of education to every citizen in every
society. Partner comprises a broad coalition of national government, civil society groups, and development agencies
such as UNESCO and World Bank. EFA was launched in Thailand 1990, after a decade of slow progress, it
commitment was reaffirmed in Daka Senegal in April 2000, then again in September 2000 when 189 countries
including Nigeria partners and adopted the MDGs to ensure that by 2015 children everywhere, boys or girls will be
able to complete a full course of primary schooling. The achievements’ are measured by 3 indicators; 1net primary
enrolment, 2percentage of cohorts reaching grade 5, and 3literacy of the young (ages 15-24). The universal primary
education in this MDGs cover only some areas where ICTs may be use to enhance education of the poor.
5. Conclusion and Recommendation
There is no doubt that larger percentages of Nigerian are suffering from poverty and lives below poverty line of a
dollar per day of World Bank report of 2000/2001. This has contributed negatively to economic growth of this nation
as poverty has contributed to some negative behaviors and joining of groups like BokoHaram, Kidnapers, pipeline
vandals etc.
Poverty eradication must be taking seriously by government at all levels. The approaches to poverty eradication in
our country Nigeria must be focused to facilitating empowerment as in political participation of poor, opportunity as in
use of ICT to generate income directly or indirectly, and enhancing security as in using ICT to educate poor. For this
to be archived & for Nigeria to meet demands for MDGs in 2015. Government must provide enabling environment for
ICTs to strive in this country Nigeria. (Steady power generation, flexible ICTs policies and subsidizing ICTs tools and
services for poor).
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The “widening digital divide” has the status of fact in most discussions of the global distribution of information and communications technologies (ICTs), and that this divide is a problem is widely accepted. This paper challenges both assumptions. First, looking at various measures of the digital divide, there is a divide in per-capita access to ICTs but developing countries show faster rates of growth in network development than developed countries. Moreover, when employing a per-income measure of access, developing countries already “digitally leapfrog” the developed world. Second, the paper examines the prediction that disparities in absolute access to ICTs between countries will lead to reduced development prospects in poor countries. Past experience has shown that it is very difficult to make predictions of this type. The paper concludes that we may be posing the wrong policy questions when focusing on a “digital divide” as it is commonly understood.
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