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Improving governance through ICTHow to achieve improved governance is a major challenge to a greater percentage of countries in Africa. The problem is not for lack of polices to change the situation but largely the failure of leadership in the continent.
IN most developing countries especially in Africa, improved governance has remained a mirage. The people are worse for it as they are weighed down by poverty, diseases, lack of basic amenities and all manner of deprivations. Across the continent, the citizens have become alienated from their governments. A gloomy picture, it is.
So, even to a layman, how to achieve improved governance is a major challenge to a greater percentage of countries in Africa. The problem is not for lack of polices to change the situation but largely the failure of leadership in the continent.
To come out from the quagmire, the people need to get involved in their affairs. There is need for more communication and interaction among those in government and their subjects.
With the evolution of Information Technology (IT), it is possible to bridge the gap. Globally, the adoption of IT has brought about a revolution and transformation in how people interact, live, earn a living etc.
It is interesting to note that with the appalling poverty and under development that have become the lot of most developing nations at present, the focus of world powers has centred on how the people could be integrated to play a role in the development of their constituencies.
Information empowers people and improves their wealth and has great impact on the economic performance of a nation. The internet and world wide web (www) has become an increasingly important feature for information.
Significantly, it reduces the cost of many transactions, increase efficiency, convenience and satisfaction. Added to all those are increases in employment, technological diffusion and increased foreign capital flows.
Now, evidence also abounds in West African Information and communication Technologies (ICT) that a new dimension has emerged with the evolution of blogging. The development received a boost with the acceptance of ICT and strengthened by the massive roll-out of the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) which has pushed up the need to improve on value added services such as the internet. A case in point here is Nigeria where blogging is daily increasing reception among various upcoming professionals since the web advancement caught up with the continent.
Blogs have grown into what some experts categorized as push-button publishing, a concept that has simplified its module of ownership and publication which actually takes the push of a button to accomplish.
To own a weblog, a blogger requires a computer system connected to the internet. The blogger is opportuned to make a choice out of the several free and open source software (FOSS) templates. What it means is that programmers will have access to the codes and can change same at will.
Creating a weblog lasts for less than 10 minutes depending on the skillfulness of the potential blogger and the speed of the internet access.
Typically, weblogs are initiated on-non-profit basis though dated with logs as in diary which could be updated daily, weekly or as frequently as possible. It is also published in reverse chronological order, making it handy on a specific subject with sub-themes.
In Nigeria, one of the emerging democracies, Information Technology has been acknowledged as a portent political weapon.
It was maximally used to truncate the tenure extension programme of the immediate past president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
At the heat of the debate on the programme, one of the local stations, in Nigeria, African Independent Television (AIT) aired it live to the nation’s public.
What was the effect? All those who would have compromised their integrity to support the ambition of the ex-president chickened out as they were afraid of their constituents seeing them on the television.
Among the citizenry, many still believe that left for the power of the media which is a conduit for information, the unpopular tenure extension would have easily sailed through.
What it connotes is that information technology can, indeed, improve governance.
In sub-Saharan Africa, agricultural information and tension have been largely confined to public domain only obtainable through the Ministries of Agriculture. The structures are greatly centralized. Moreover, technical messages communicated to farmers were often of an extremely general type.
The problems associated with those type of arrangements are that farmers are treated as ignorant recipients of information rather than knowledge partners in technology transfer. So, there had been a great need to provide agricultural and other relevant information related to farmers needs in rural areas.
It is merely stating the obvious to say that information technology can improve governance.
In developing countries particularly Africa, the leadership can improve the lives of the people through maximum exploitation of the potentials in Information Technology.
The people need to be involved in their own affairs and this is possible through IT.
Author : Willy Eya
Selected article of Haayo Call 4
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