Leaders of thought, business-owners and school administrators have been called upon to complement the effort of the government in its quest to digitize the economy.
A university don, Professor Adeolu Akande, made the call at the weekend in Ibadan, during an interaction with a group of youth volunteers on “Digital Inclusion for National Development”.
According to him Akande, who is a governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), empowerment of the citizenry in the areas of digital tools as well as enhancement of their capacity would automatically leap-frog the process of technological growth and digitization of the economy.
He maintained that the paradigm shift brought by Information Technology (ICT) must be embraced by all and sundry so that the nation can take the full advantage of development in the sector.
Akande, who was Chief of Staff to Oyo State Governor, commended both the federal and the state governments for steps taken to remove barriers to digital inclusion and growth through infrastructure, investment and appropriate policy framework.
The governorship hopeful noted that there were enormous opportunities for everyone to add value to the digital chain, urging all stakeholders in academics, industries and schools to collaborate to empower the citizens.
“Digital inclusion is beyond the level of desirability; the world has moved. It is a strategy that is not only possible, but one that can be actualised. I believe we all have responsibility to create the future for ourselves and our children”, he said.
He said that with insights and foresights, it was possible to create a digital canopy which will accommodate all citizenry for social and economic growth.
“I believe in exercise and initiative that will create a digital consciousness and institute a new tradition and excitement of digital awakening among the youths and the larger citizenry; initiatives that will shift mind-sets from analogue to digital and make every household benefit from the new information age.
He said ICT had provided a great leverage for everyone to make a living and function effectively, noting that the creativity and resilience of youths in Oyo State were evident in many of them who have turned many public spaces into ICT parks where they experiment with lofty ideas.
He there urged government to provide ICT parks where the creativity of these youths could be developed and harnessed to enhance job creation, youth empowerment and advancement of the society.
“I share a conviction that computers and other hardware can be subsidized for individuals and households as well as provision of hotspot, broadband internet access across the cities and rural communities”, he maintained.
The university lecturer described the gains of applications of digital skills and ICT as enormous for the entire citizenry, noting that smartphones, for instance, had provided a knowledge warehouse in best practices in health, education and agriculture, among others.
He said also beneficial to the citizenry were applications which provide knowledge about agriculture, including weather forecast and alerts, tips on modern tropicalized farming systems, crop management and food formula for livestock.
He urged the youths to sustain the tempo and challenged them to engage more in high-tech solutions to meet needs in agriculture, health, education and all aspects of national developments.
“We all must be excited when we see great possibilities in ICT, such as materials online that helps teaching in a creative way, especially early childhood education, application of ICT in health, especially for teleconferencing in health management, bringing the best of consultants to the remotest village and providing critical support for the most vulnerable group,” he added.