May 30, 2012

IT/ICT: A tool for rapid development - lessons from India

Nicholas Awagah - The writer
"The earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not for every man’s greed"                                     

The world now revolves on the command of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and no country with a progressive philosophy can afford to be left behind.

Every aspect of human endeavor has embraced ICT not only because it is fast and easy but more importantly it helps to address more complex situations making them look very simple.
Sometime ago, ICT was a preserve of developed countries who indeed used it to their advantage including economic, political, religious among others.

In recent times, the introduction of social networking propelled by ICT was phenomenal during the Arab Spring, which brought many strong governments to their knees.

 In the same spirit, early adoption of ICT in some developing countries played significant roles in changing some sorry states that existed in those countries into a new dawn of success helping to bring massive improvements in the lives of the people.

Mention cannot be made of such countries without India.
I had the opportunity of being a delegate from Ghana among delegates from other eleven Developing Countries namely Afghanistan, Ghana, Iraq, Laos, Myanmar, Nigeria, Oman, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Vietnam and Zimbabwe on the topic: International Programme on Information Technology for Rural Development, held at the   Center For Information Technology, National Institute For Rural Development (NIRD) Rajendra Nagar, Hyderabad-500 030, India, from January 17 – February 13, 2011.

The revelation was amazing, how India is making the best out of IT/ICT to solve challenges confronting its citizens.
We had the opportunity to interact with IT experts on various related topics for three weeks at the Institute-NIRD. We also visited some institutions and firms to demonstrate the best IT/ICT applications. 
To make the programme more meaningful, we had study tour to Bangalore where we were exposed to the best practices in some sectors like Education, Agriculture, Land records, e-governance, Heath and Citizen Centric Services and IT infrastructure alike.

The basic concept and philosophy that runs through the programme was how to make life easier for the citizens through the use of IT/ICT medium available by bringing governance to the door step of the citizens (e-governance) i.e. poverty reduction.

 IT/ICT plays a major role in poverty reduction and made life easier in India by making available several “one stop shops” at the disposal of the citizens. It is considered and used as a tool for rural development and not an end in itself.

Indeed, it is an eye opener. All the above initiatives in India can be applicable and adapted in Ghana using the appropriate design IT / ICT initiative, e.g , Land title registration and the issuance of development permits, monitoring the sea erosion related activities along the coast through remote sensing systems and the field of early warning regarding climate change related activities. Other suitable areas of adoption are the use of IT / ICT to enhance revenue generation through data collection, improve farming / agriculture activities as well as Health delivery i.e Tele-medicine for Rural Masses, Primary Education, Social Welfare, Rural Energy and e-Governance among others.

To achieve these, Government must assist in getting stable, regular and reliable network connectivity to the rural areas to facilitate the use of relevant IT / ICT for Rural Development and poverty reduction.
After the one month course, it can be gainsaid that the Role of IT in Rural Development is a tool which helps a country to achieve its national goals and policies. IT provides the needed information for decision making at the right time and at less cost.

By the use of I T, we are becoming able as a country to develop our rural areas as fast as we can.
In the twenty-first century, Information technology is the primary tool for each and every country to develop. It is noted that IT/ICT create, store, disseminate, bring value-addition and manage information for development.

Successful innovation, value addition and market participation increasingly depend on access to information services at the various stages of the value chain, for this, Computer education at all levels needs to be given a push otherwise, the consequences may be disastrous, Economic divide may be strengthened by technological divides, leading to multi-dimensional social problems.

Am very grateful to the India High commissioner to Ghana, Her-Excellency Ruchi Ghanashym for the opportunity.

Am also thankful to the Director General of the Institute, Shri Mathew C. Kunnumkal and the Head of the Center for Information Technology  Dr. P Satish Chandra, of the  National Institute of Rural Development, NIRD for the recognition and award given to me on the 56th, Anniversary Independent Day of India for being IT / ICT international participants from Ghana. On the award is written: “With the best compliments from Director General, NIRD”.

By: Mr. Nicholas Awagah (awagah@hotmail.com)

The writer is a 2010-2011 ITEC/SCAAP beneficiary from the Keta Municipal Assembly-KeMA