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POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN NIGERIA THE ROLE OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS

ABSTRACT

The impact and potential of ICTs have not been fully exploited in the Nigerian context. While the formal Government sector continues to play an important role, it is the growth of private participation in providing affordable computer education, especially to the socially and economically under-privileged that appear to have provided the impetus for growth in qualified professionals. Thus this paper argues that education and training in computer programme and packages is likely to increase the capabilities for job-seeking, which in turn would change the socio-economic structure of the households whose members have been the beneficiary of such programme. The data for this paper were drawn mainly from documentary sources. The results of this study points out that computer education appears to have tremendous scope and a major source of empowerment of people especially the socially and economically backward in Nigeria.

Introduction

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with an estimated population of about 140 million and more than one-fifth of the continent’s total population. It is also the second largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa with a gross domestic product (GDP) of about $133 billion in 2005. Potentially, Nigeria possesses the human and material resources to make it one of the richest states on the African continent and a major player in the global political economy. Nigeria (the world’s seventh oil producer) is a member of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) and has highly valued sources of energy, especially its substantial reserves of petroleum and natural gas. Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa, producing about an average of 2.3 million barrels a day of crude oil. Despite the country’s vast oil wealth and abundant human resources, fluctuating oil prices, endemic corruption and mismanagement of the nation’s resources, have undermined Nigeria’s economic progress and resulted in about 60% of Nigerian population living in abysmal poverty. The Nigerian economy experienced almost two decades of poor economic performance after the collapse of oil prices in the early 80s, when a series of military dictatorships ignored prudent macroeconomic policies and state infrastructures. With the return of democratic rule in 1999, the then civilian administration launched a series of economic reforms designed to address the structural and institutional weaknesses of the Nigerian economy. The economic reform plan includes acceleration of privatization, deregulation and liberalization of key sectors of the economy, fiscal and monetary reforms, infrastructural development, greater transparency and accountability, and anti-corruption measures as key elements of good economic governance. In March 2004, these policies were encapsulated in an all-embracing home-grown economic program known as the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS). The federal government also seeks an effective economic coordination of and a close collaboration with the state and local governments by encouraging them to design and implement equivalent programs based on the NEEDS model with acronyms like (SEEDS) State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy and (LEEDS) Local Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy respectively. It is estimated that about 60 per cent of a total population of about 140 million live on less than one dollar a day in purchasing power parity terms. This gives Nigeria the third-largest number of poor people in the world after China and India. See World Bank, Country Partnership Strategy for the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2005-2009), Report No. 32412-NG, June 2005. 2

In a world where one out of every four Africans is a Nigerian; where in fact one out of every eight black persons globally is a Nigerian, it is worth saying that the answers which Nigeria goes around the world seeking from Europe to Asia are in the hands of Nigerians themselves, That we have more human resources than most developed nations, but have not started to harness what we have. And that since we have failed to define ourselves in the global community, others have stepped in to define us and the picture they are painting, is not pretty.

Aniebonam (2002) states that the global economy is highly segmented not everybody is included, but everybody is affected. For Nigeria, it has been more exclusion with heavy effect; and the time has come for us to participate starting from the lower level (starting with computer literacy).

A review of the new rules of engagement that directly impact today’s global reality include:

  • The new economy is powered by the Internet – the equivalence of the electrical engine, of the Industrial Age, making possible the operation of the network enterprise, the historical equivalent of the industrial factory. Information technology – including information based transportation systems are the basis of connectivity and knowledge-based production.
  • New rules for labor. Highly skilled labor is critical, flexible, adaptable, self-programmable, and able to innovate by working in flexible enterprises.

Today’s reality is one of networks of high skilled workers and entrepreneurs, moving back and forth between different nodes of production and innovation.

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