ICT and the Economy: Blessing or Curse?

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Nigeria-ICT3By: Inih Essien

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which is largely seen as technology that aids access to information through telecommunications has become an aspect of the economy which has attracted investors in all parts of the world especially with its links with managing and processing information- an important factor within a small and large organization or company. 

Africa is not left out of this advancement of the ICT world as evidence the continent over, shows a flood of IT materials like the Internet, wireless networks, cell phones and other communication mediums, in large quantity. In fact, the numbers of mobile phones have more than tripled in that last years.

ICT has provided us with an array of communication capabilities as people can now communicate in real-time with others in different countries via instant messaging, voice over IP (VOIP), social networking sites and video conferencing.

It has also helped the whole idea of globalization as the world has suddenly become come closer and people can effectively stay connected in ways they never dreamed. Although these facts are thrilling and come with its outstanding benefits, this situation has several economic implications on society.

Effective communication links and computerized systems are essential for high quality service delivery. Identified shortage in world markets are quickly spread throughout a global network, thereby ensuring customer satisfaction, competitiveness, efficiency and strengthening of domestic services quality. This is all possible because of instantaneous access to information, a key benefit of ICT.

In 1991, a World Bank paper centered on the information technical revolution and economic development stated that ICT enhances access to global knowledge, markets and capital. It further noted that it is a critical tool for competition in an information intensive economy since it increases the amount of information available to economic agents hence transforming the way people do things, while increasing information intensity of processes, occupations, institutions, products and economics as well as reducing transaction and coordination costs within and across institutions.

ICT has experienced the most rapid development and taken the field of micro-electronics, informatics, data processing and communications into areas of life which were an exclusive preserve of space and advanced manufacturing systems.

It has also influenced information transmission between and within organisations in many ways. Utilization of ICT in the business world has rapidly increased the ease of transactions and inadvertently the rate and volume of transactions as well with banks, industry participants and policy makers having to stay up to date with cutting edge technology in order to be in step with the rapid and significant growth in electronic commerce as electronic banking and payments will also increase in tandem with increased volume of electronic commerce.

Without a doubt industry analysis outlining the impact of ICT on savings, expenditure, revenue growth and increased customer service has also generated considerable interest and speculation about the impact of ICT on the economy as a whole.

These have resulted in the coining of the term ‘Information Technology Productivity Paradox’ which is concerned with appraising the impact of information technology on operational efficiency and the productivity of organisations.

Several studies have portrayed that in many instances a positive correlation is posited between increased investment in information technology and productivity but on the contrary additional investments in information technology does not necessarily contribute positively to productivity, so the jury is still out on increased investment in IT being absolutely necessary.

One thing is certain, ICT has certainly coloured the world and changed it considerably from what it used to be, bringing global economies and people’s closer together by way of rapid communication. Now whether this has helped to increase or improve human social skills and love for one another, is still a topic that graces debate tables all around the world.

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