: Digital Divide, Technology Growth, and Technology Adoption
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Digital Divide is
often referred to as the performance gaps that exist between countries with
universal access to Information Technology resource, and countries without such
Nigeria does not yet
have universal Information Technology resource access. Computer ownership, and
Internet access, currently belongs to a certain segment of society. According to
Pippa Norris of the John F. Kennedy School of Government Harvard University
“Globally the regional disparities are marked. The 29 OECD member states,
representing post-industrial economies and developed democracies, contain 97% of
all Internet hosts, 92% of the market in production and consumption of computer
hardware, software and services, and 86% of all Internet users. In contrast the
whole of Sub-Saharan Africa contains only 2.5 million Internet users, or less
than 1% of the world’s online community. Indeed there are more users within
than in the entire continent of
is a prime example of the contrast that Pippa Norris talks
about. According to InternetWorldstats.com,
In the year 2003,
with a population of 154,491,100, recorded only 750,000
Internet users or 0.5% of the total population.
There are many factors responsible for
’s Digital Divide. In general, we can summarize them as
A lack of underlying Technology Development Infrastructure. For example,
Electricity, Transportation and Water supply.
Lack of formulation and Implementation of effective Strategy and Policy
to address Digital Divide disparities.
Lack of Formulation of Strategy to address Exponential Technology
Development and growth disparity.
Lack of Clear Technology Adoption Appropriateness.
Lack of Information Technology Research and Development initiatives.
The above factors are largely responsible for
lagging behind in Information Technology age. Particular
attention must be paid to
’s non-existent Research and Development effort. It was Ray
Kurzweil's that said "we will see 1,000 times more technological progress in
the 21st century than we saw in the 20th,"
 The rate of Technological
development and change has become exponential. The driving force behind most of
the exponential growth that we see in the Information Technologies are a result
of research driven innovation. James L. Crowley says it best, “the exponential
growth in performance is the result of a virtuous cycle composed of the
interaction of research, innovation and economic impact. In this spiral, the
promise of economic gain leads to allocation of resources for research. Research
produces innovation. Innovation triggers generation of wealth. The resulting
wealth provides resources for research. All three components are fundamental. As
long as the three components (or phases) of the cycle continue, innovations will
accumulate and performance grows exponentially”
Nigerian Information Technology
Innovation has failed to keep up with global trends, this is because generally,
is an Information Technology product consumer. The entire
Information Technology Industry is not Research and Development inclined, but
focuses mainly to End-User computing. To date, the only major technological
achievement by the Nigerian National Information Technology Development Agency
(NITDA), are projects in developing the Nigerian keyboard. Hence, the output of
the cycles of research and innovation interaction that John Crowley talked
about, are also lagging.
continues to face an Information Technology Divide and
Information Technology development dilemma. First, she needs to develop
underlying baseline Technologies, such as; electricity, water supply, and
transportation, upon which all Information Technology building blocks are laid.
This core Information Technology structural readiness phase, is a major
attribute of Nigeria
’s Digital Divide.
Next, she needs to narrow the
existing Digital Divide gap. If we define Digital Divide as existing Technology
use disparity, Nigeria needs to narrow the overwhelming gap that exist between
her and countries that have adopted Technology development at a more earlier
stage. This can only be done by Technology Adoption Acceleration. According
to Teresa Peters, “the digital divide between countries is usually measured in
terms of the number of telephones, computers, and Internet users. Between groups
of people within countries”
’s task thus, is to bridge the Technology division gap that
currently exists both internally and externally. Internally, she needs to
improve the underlying Infrastructure and make Information Technology
universally accessible. Externally, she needs to bridge the Technology gap that
exists between her, and developed nations.
Thirdly, with the exponential
growth of Technology,
Nigeria also needs to
keep abreast of the exponential Technological development. She needs to invest
in Research and Development, and facilitate the adoption of Technology spread
through all fabric of society.
needs to equip the universities with Research and Development
resources, and implement Polices that encourages the private sector in
Technology development initiatives.
Lastly, given the limitation
of resources and a very un-reliable underlying Technology development
Infrastructure, there is a resounding need for Technological Adoption
appropriateness. For example, given the problem of a local Fiber Optics
might need to appropriately adopt other emerging forms of
Telecommununication transmission medium. Fiber Optics deployment might be
forgone in favor of the new Wireless or Satellite standards.
Bridging Nigerian’s Digital
Divide will involve a simultaneous process of accelerated universal provision of
Technology access , Research and Development, and the implementation and
adoption of relevant policies.