Covenant University Public Lecture Series African nations urged to embrace ICT education to alleviate poverty
African nations have been urged to embrace ICT education and training in science and technology and energy generation as the way forward in alleviating poverty and meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
The advice was contained in a paper presented at the Covenant University’s 16th public lecture, titled, "Globalization, Energy, Education and Poverty Alleviation: Prospects & challenges for Developing Nation", by an erudite international scholar and electrical engineering expert, Professor James Katende, on Thursday, September 27, 2007 at the University Chapel.
Professor Katende, who is also the Dean, College of Science & Technology of the University, painted a vivid picture of the current sorry state of the African Continent using some poetic recitations. He lamented that in the face of globalization and half way through the target for achieving the Millennium Goals, the African developing nations, particularly those in the sub-Saharan regions are far from achieving poverty reduction.
He also lamented the poor state of power supply in the Continent, which militates against sustainable development. He said that the nation should also look in the direction of safe and abundant renewable energy, such as wind and solar as well as to ensuring that science-based professionals are made to head science and technology related organizations like Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) so as to provide informed leadership.
The Lecturer, who examined some of the initiative brought about by ICT-driven globalization process in helping developing nations achieve sustainable development, said education in African should employ modern ICT tools and expose students to creative and innovative problem solving in science and technology. He observed that people might become obsolete in the nearest future if they don’t keep up with ICT, which made the world to become flat.
Professor Katende commended Covenant University for investing so much in the development of science and technology, especially in the area of provision of well-equipped laboratories and competent staff to drive technological advancement in the University. He acknowledged the Chancellor, Dr David Oyedepo whose birthday coincided with the lecture, for his passion and support in driving new developmental order in the Continent.
In her remarks at the occasion, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Aize Obayan, referred to the lecture as a sprawling web of interconnections and intersections and also drew corollary with the world wide web connection with all the pros and cons that go along with it. She also acknowledged the Lecturer’s successful use of poetry in painting a vivid picture of Africa, saying that it was a wake-up call for us to think about Africa and to be Africentric in all we do, adding that Africa must dwell in everyone’s heart.
"One thing that this lecture has really tackled this afternoon is the fact that as a University, a nation, a people, the subject of Africa must be central in our hearts and it is no coincidence that we are looking at such issues as a university because we are a university set to raise new generation leaders for the African continent and we are saying along this line that one of the major goals that we must help realize is restoration of the dignity of the black man."
Professor Obayan said the lecture also raised a lot of questions and placed responsibility of realising the Millennium Development Goals right in the people’s hands. "NEPAD is wonderful and it is okay to sign all the pacts on international platforms and of course on the West-African sub-region. The AU is also wonderful, however the question of responsibility when it comes to each of us and how we want to help realize the totality of the Millennium Development Goals is squarely in our own hands".
She decried what she "called crab" mentality or pull-him-down syndrome, saying it was responsible for the poverty level in the Continent. "It is about a crab mentality and consciousness which we have to break away from and that is the real picture of poverty and that is how we must eradicate poverty from our land", she emphasised.
Professor Obayan said ICT is very fundamental in a world that is now flat, adding that the train of ICT and globalisation is moving very fast, thereby creating an urgent need to ensure that we get right on it in order to catch up with the developed world.
She paid a glowing birthday tribute to the Chancellor, Dr David Oyedepo for his contributions in expanding the frontiers of education, lighting the continent and decking the Blackman with honour and dignity. She later led the audience in a Happy birthday chorus rendered in honour of the Chancellor.
The event, which was held at the University’s multi-purpose Chapel, drew an array of dignitaries from all works of life, including representatives of Lagos State Governor, Chief Babatunde Fashola and his Ogun State counterpart, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
In his address at the event, the Ogun State Governor said the greatest event of the 21st century was the monumental phenomenon of globalization made possible through the instrumentality of information, communication and technology (ICT), which has also leveled down almost all barriers created by distance, topography and other inhibitions that hitherto militated against man’s desire for heightened development.
He said ICT has also fast track and smoothen governance process, commerce, economic activities and education, which are road maps for poverty alleviation, adding that every sustainable wealth and secured development is premised on sound education.
The governor lamented the debilitating challenge posed by inadequate and inconsistent supply of energy, which has crippled many segment of our economy. He congratulated the University for chosen the theme of the Lecture, which he said was very apt to current realities in our nation.