Author: B. Geeplay Williams
Program Director at Code Brain Liberia, Regional Director at West Africa ICT Working Group Studies Cyber-Security at Obefemi Awolowo University in Nigeria
Liberia as a nation needs to develop viable ICT sector that will support economic growth. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) offers major transformational opportunities by contributing to the improvement of productivity, competitiveness, growth, wealth creation, poverty reduction and spur of knowledge based economy. A dying economy like Liberia needs an ICT transformational force; a tool to enable the government not only to improve public services but to also dramatically improve the relationship between the citizens and the State. To have this moving, setting up ICT innovation hub platforms and supporting all ICT programs will serve as a catalyst of economic growth; focusing on inclusive and sustainable initiatives that will transform Liberia into a high-income nation very soon. Though, this government has made some milestones by integrating ICT in some of its social services public domain including: LRA (E-taxing), University of Liberia of Government (automation of registration and newly adopted web-base e-learning) and also sustaining the past government ICT processing and programs. With all these achievements, as a researcher, it is surprising to know, that government’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects have become cumbersome in a sense that these projects are captured in national budgets but are not implemented; for example some social media pages of government ministries and agencies are running far behind schedule and failing to deliver the expected benefits to the public. In addition to this, at some critical government institutions, the issues of ICT policy is not followed and lack sustainability plans. Other developing nations are making use of technology in dealing with future and current challenges.
Sustainability issues have both local and global dimensions. A world in which poverty, disease, inequalities, environmental threats and human insecurity thrive, threatens the present and the future. Technology advances have obviously transformed the world but very significant divides- societal and digital- remain and are expanding. These challenges are not new to us as a developing nation but innovative IT oriented models, responses and culture are needed.
We want to call on our developmental partners to continue joining hands with the government in the area of ICT support. Looking at what is going around the world shows clearly that Liberia’s current economic challenges are the issues of oil, timber and raw natural resources are not our future. A strategic ICT focus on sustainability through local contents and other critical elements is the way forward.