By William Kituuka
In this millennium, it is the nations that will be able to quickly gather process and use information in the most efficient way which will gain and sustain prosperity.
The information revolution has diminished the constraints of distance in the manufacturing industry and many services, and offers new tools in the form of administrative capabilities, long distance learning, tele – medicine, the more effective management of micro – credit systems, and agricultural production, and for a variety of other applications. Hence major efforts should be undertaken to support greater acquisition and utilization of information technologies.
The power of information is a dynamic force for education, for promotion of freedom, democratization and broader participation by people in the decisions affecting their lives. Its great potential must be harnessed.
With the advent of the Internet, the place of information as the raw material has been enhanced. When people have ample information on health, education, they learn to make educated and safe choices, a huge advantage in any society. It therefore makes a lot of sense if people are legally empowered to seek information especially on the performance of those mandated to serve the public.
Developments in information technologies are revolutionizing both the global economy and enterprises around the world regardless of their size, product and geographical coverage. At the macro economic level, Information technologies are increasingly seen as instrumental in regional development and the long term prosperity of regions.
There is therefore an emerging need to enhance the competitiveness of both enterprises and regions, based on new information society and the knowledge based economic powers. The competitiveness of regional economies and enterprises will, to a great extent, depend both on the conditions of utilization and on the development and application of these technologies.
Globalisation permits countries to share experiences and to learn from one another’s achievements and difficulties, and promote a cross fertilization of ideals, cultural values and aspirations.
The emergency of globalization and interdependence are key features of the new international environment. Increased trade and communications present opportunities for all nations to enjoy.
Globalisation encompasses the varying degrees of increasing integration of world markets of goods, services, capital, technology and labour. This has generated greater openness, freer movement of factors of production and created greater opportunities for international cooperation.
Sustainable development means the use by exploitation of today’s resources in such a manner that these resources will be available for use by future generations, in other words, consumption today with tomorrow in mind. The broader scope in addition to the above definition recognizes Community Economics, Participatory Appraisal and Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Poverty Alleviation Strategies, and Human Rights Observance as necessary tools in attempts to achieve sustainable development objectives for any economic entity.
Peace and development are closely interrelated and mutually supportive. Development is indispensable to the achievement and maintenance of peace and security. Development cannot be attained in absence of respect for all human rights and functional freedoms.
It is increasingly recognized that good governance is an essential building block for meeting the objectives of sustainable development, prosperity and peace. Good governance comprises the rule of law, effective state institutions, transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs, respect for human rights, and the meaningful participation of all citizens in the political process and in decisions affecting their lives.
National planning capacity for information technology is an issue which requires political will. Even if the private sector manages to acquire Information and Communication technologies (ICTs) the enabling environment will depend on government that must also develop human resources.
If we don’t have own vision, if we don’t produce our own content, we will remain poor consumers, submerged in badly digested information from outside.
Potential is there for us to leapfrog several stages. Where other parts of the world have taken decades to get, we can get there quickly because we can access very detailed and very broad information. We must prepare ourselves to make use of new technology; the responsibility is ours alone through our institutions, government and civil society organizations.
The decision makers must integrate the technological dimensions in national plans for economic growth and human development.
The information age is not about getting connected, which makes us receivers; the point is to become producers, not just consumers. We must focus on information management and basic website development. User needs must always come first. New technologies should be used to satisfy needs without being technology driven.
We should decide for ourselves what we need on the Internet. The risk is that tomorrow other people will come and do the market feasibility studies for us then go away to develop products that meet our needs, and we shall be passive consumers and not producers.
We need people schooled in technological aspects. Young people should be given academic qualifications and also be empowered to create their own jobs. Students who can handle computer net working will be “very important” in spreading the Internet.
The educational process in the information technology envisages two important components. One is to know about the technology itself, the other is to put our own content inside this technology.
We must collaborate in developing appropriate software, this means less talk and more action. Developing appropriate software with good strategy is not wasting time although alternative packages come from abroad.
We can become competitive in software development, because it is all about ideas. People should write programmes and eventually have impact on the market. India has made a break through on this, and now getting a lot of contracts to develop software. We have to be creative and create our own software that will be useful to other people.
For any progress, we must challenge ourselves and have ambition. We have been exporting good soccer players who did not have proper balls when they were young. They made substitute balls and developed skills. Young people need to get the same level in terms of information technology.