While Nigeria has in recent years witnessed nominal growth in infrastructure and human capital development, it is however regrettable that the bulk of its over 200 million population which reside in the rural areas still wallow in abject poverty and infrastructural deficit.
To witness the kind of growth that will translate into better living standards for the vast majority of the populace, economists suggest a deep penetration of the grassroots with awareness and physical infrastructure.
While there are challenges to achieving this, it is the opinion of experts that with the application of the right tools of development, many would be reached.
Modern tools for development include the application of digital technology and a better appreciation of data science.
These have helped many countries not only to advance in all human indices of development but to expand the scope of development to the ģrassroots.
This is imperative as basic economic policies are better processed and more implementable when backed by data analyses which makes it easy to set goals and targets within reasonable time frames.
Though desired, the use of digital technology and data science for planning and developmental purposes in Nigeria has been on the low side.
While the impact of global technological advancement has been high in Nigeria with more than 108 million people representing over 50 per cent of its population having access to the internet and other Hi-Tech facilities, the capacity of the populace to take advantage of the growth has been minimal.
The most technologically advanced countries of the world like the United States, Japan, South Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom have succeeded in expanding the scope of development through the education and training of their populace on digital technology and data science.
In Africa, countries like Mauritius, South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria which are among the top 10 in technological development on the continent, the awareness however, has not been that deep due to lack of such awareness.
This has deprived citizens of the attendant benefits that come with such growth, leading to consequences such as backwardness and lack of development in the rural areas with women and children most affected.
All growth, according to Calvin Coolidge, a former president of the United States, depends on activity; but the necessary actions cannot take place unless the awareness to spur such activities is created.
But this can be addressed through conscious efforts to educate and enlighten the populace.
A digital technology expert, Uduak Emmanuel Abraham, recently narrated how she ventured into the training and mass enlightenment of people on digital technology and data science for the purpose of achieving this.
Through her work with the Grand Digital, Data and Technology Foundation, a non-profit and non-political organisation, one has come to understand that expanding the scope of knowledge in digital technology by making the data for processing such knowledge available is a sure way of bringing development to the rural areas to reach the less privileged and a large percentage of the populace.
Digital technologies are devices for the use and storage of data for communication, information and other social services.
The application of this knowledge through devices such as cell phones, computers etc makes it easier for people to network and communicate, and raises awareness and makes goods, medical and social services easily accessible.
This has necessitated a wider appreciation of the need to educate and train more people in the use of digital technology with more groups and organisations taking the initiative.
From observation, one has come to understand that the scope of work required is enormous though many communities in Nigeria which have hitherto not been exposed to such knowledge and ideas have been covered by the efforts of some of these organisations.
It is the view of experts such Uduak Abraham that as government seeks ways to bring development to the ģrassroots, the provision of technical resources to access digital technology with the necessary data, especially to women, youths and children will go a long way in achieving that.
She explained that this will also empower and support businesses apart from other derivable benefits which include raising the level of education of the masses; creating the much-needed awareness and promoting entrepreneurship.
On a general note, this is also bound to enhance reach with other communities and individuals for socioeconomic benefits thereby building healthy communities in the rural areas of Nigeria with improved healthcare education and human capacity.
It is therefore imperative for such initiatives to be promoted and encouraged due to the positive impacts they’re bound to have on the populace.
Agbese contributed this piece from Abuja.