Experts Advocate African Development through ICT and Knowledge Economy
Professor of Computing, University of South Wales, United Kingdom, Professor Andrew Ware with other experts have advocated the use of ICT and knowledge economy for African development.
Professor Ware spoke on “Developing the Knowledge Economy-Vital Lessons for African” at the just concluded 2nd Covenant University International Conference on African Development Issues (CU-ICADI) 2015.
According to him, knowledge investments and distribution through formal and informal networks are essential to economic performance. Also required is tacit knowledge, including the skills to use and adapt codified knowledge, which underlines the importance of continuous learning by individuals and firms.
Prof Ware also spoke on the importance of continuous learning by individuals and firms. “A culture of ‘investing in people’ can play a major role in companies. Our prestigious accreditation is recognised across the world as a mark of excellence. We optimise performance by championing best practice in people management and equipping our organisations with the tools to succeed. Organisations that invest in people development, achieve our accreditation through a rigorous and objective assessment to determine performance.”
Also speaking at the Conference, a Professor of Communication Engineering, Department of Electrical and Information Engineering, Covenant University, Professor A. A. A. Atayero, presented a paper on the topic “Relationship between ICT Education and Knowledge Economy in Africa.”
Professor Atayero said advancement in the technology and techniques of effective transmission of information has engendered an improvement in the wellbeing of humans. “The Internet, Computers and Telephony have been major drivers of this advancement.”
According to him, educating a Nation’s populace adequately to become proficient and skillful in exploiting the ICT will enhance the economy’s preparedness for Knowledge Economy. “Education is a catalyst for growth. Without adequate and relevant technical education, no Nation or Region can benefit from emerging Knowledge Economy,” he said.
He defined ICT Education as the study of tools and techniques for reliable information content transmission and reception over appropriate conduit, while ICT in Education is the use of the ICTs in the realisation of pedagogical objectives. ICT in Education is not synonymous to ICT education and as such, they cannot be used interchangeably.
“It is, therefore, imperative for African economies to find ways of addressing this all-important factor required for participating in the emerging global Knowledge Economy. African economies must begin to shy away from their over-dependence on exportation of raw unprocessed natural (and unskilled human) resources as the major source of GDP. It can only be expected that an ICT-educated populace will engender an improvement in the ICT Development Index (IDI) of its country, region, or economy,” he explained.
He concluded that the onus now rests on African leaders and geopolitical policy makers to ensure that the identified skill indicator components (Adult literacy, Secondary gross enrolment and Tertiary gross enrolment) are given the necessary impetus and right of place in policy formulation and budgetary allocations.
On his part, the IBM Distinguished Engineer & Chief Scientist, IBM Research – Africa, Dr. Uyi Stewart in his Presentation titled “Leveraging Information Technology for Economic Development: A Vision of Innovation in Africa” noted that Africa is at a Tipping Point (the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place).
According to him, “Opportunities for Africa’s transformation emerge in data and the key to smarter systems lies not in the chip, or the sensor, or the mobile device. It’s not the smarter meter, or the smarter power line. It’s not even the software, per se. It’s the data. Intelligence is hidden in the data.”
Speaking on Cognitive Systems, Dr Stewart explained that Complex reasoning and interaction extends human cognition. However, the goal is not to replicate the human brain nor replace human thinking with machine thinking.
With Cognitive Systems, machines will be more rational and analytic (possess encyclopedic memories and huge computational abilities), while people will provide expertise, judgment, intuition, empathy, a moral compass, and human creativity.
In fostering the innovation ecosystem, opportunities abound in cities, food, water, energy, mobile, healthcare, financial inclusion, tourism and environment.
In his submission, he said that Indigenous Knowledge is fundamental to understanding societal behavior in Africa and also essential to the development of Africa.