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Technological solutions will save Africa, but at what cost?

By Momoh Onimisi

 

A bird eye view of Nigeria’s educational sector today, is to look down on crumbling infrastructure, dilapidated buildings and poor equipped laboratory. The dark shadows cast by years of mismanagement and neglects, pales in consonance with the visions of individuals like Awolowo, Mandela, Nyerere amongst others.

Many reasons are responsible, but in the words of Confucius, the satire of the Nigerian state is better captured “no country goes bankrupt educating its citizen”. And to think of positive possibilities of technology for advancement is to think of a continent where decades ago mobile phone penetration seems unimaginable but today, our East African neighbors and some on the West are on the cusp of a tech driven transformation that is beginning to reshape institutions and infrastructures at a pace unimaginable.

The advent of the internet age and continuous mobile penetration has democratized accessibility and aroused competitiveness within brands like MTN, Glo, Airtel and 9mobile .  Kenyan brand Mpesa has developed an economic model of financial exchange thus cutting the barriers in several forms and has lifted over 150,000 families from poverty within the last 10 years. All these are laudable achievements.

But an idea that “ the poverty gap  in Africa is a technology gap, a knowledge and education gap as expressed by Ghanaian minister Frimpong Kwabena reflects the draw back in technological adoption within the sub Saharan region. And for all the goods modern technologies offers, its embrace is still limited. Digital manufacturing or 3D printing in Nigeria has less than 10% penetration.

At present not one in 20 schools in Nigeria including universities have embraced the possibilities of digital manufacturing or the 3D printing. And on the continent overall only one 3D Stacker printer existed in the whole of the Africa as of September 2017. Three quarter of schools offering the visual art still subject their kids to the rigors of stressful art modelling techniques. The reality is, if our educational system cannot groom youngsters for jobs in the tech world, we risk falling far behind.

Last year, Day Water Man College handed over its student to a tech savvy 3D company. The survey proved that digital manufacturing not only aroused curiosity but triggered intrinsic artistic traits which they never imagined. The study also explained the connections between previous knowledge, basic training and curiosity. However, bottlenecks persists because educational policies including poor internet and power access are struggling to make the spectrum available.

Firms including the reputable “Innov8xions” are experimenting with digital technology and prides itself as a tech hub where prototypes, and 3D branding is making its biggest impact. With kids exploring the possibilities of drone modeling and many more. In that spirit, possibilities of technology for solution offers hope but long standing problems including weak educational systems and broken infrastructure still persists.

And in all honesty, technological adoption makes more impact than it does in the advanced world. The possibilities to think of new ways from the mobile penetration rate has seen continuous innovations in the Fintech industries through mobile apps and USSD. An ebola vaccine or even malaria will profit Africa than it will in Europe or America .But one thing must be understood, an economy without strong educational structure cannot propel the force of change, a blind eye approach to the opportunities from modernity will only peg us to the bottom of low income countries.

And as we strive for better life it is imperative to embrace technologies in solving our basic needs and at this moment of challenge that must be our work.

I agree with you on this line "And as we strive for better life it is imperative to embrace technologies in solving our basic needs and at this moment of challenge that must be our work". We need to improve processes with technology. Africa has to do that.