Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), held its 27th Twitter chat in the 9th of July 2020. The guest was, Olanrewaju Oyedeji, Coordinator, Digital Literacy Advocacy Club & Editor, TechMirror Magazine, he discussed on The Role of ICT in the Fight against Covid19. He started by answering the question on the meaning of ICT where he said that ICT is an acronym for Information and Communications Technology; it is the use of computers to store, retrieve and transmit information or data. It has transcended from computer to Digital gadgets/sites, Apps and other Computer networks.
According toAyodeji, ICT has now gone on beyond its definition to be a critical part of every global department and sector. So, defining ICT maybe determined on the context we are referring to and the purpose for such definitions. ICT has outgrown the books. On the way ICT can help in the fight against the deadly corona virus. He said, when the Covid-19 came to be, we had many persons who were worried & at the same time thankful that this kind of pandemic happened when the world is inter-connected. When we can say the world is a global village thanks to ICT. It has helped in many ways… For instance, we are talking of awareness created through ICT platforms. We would attest to the fact that Twitter for instance played huge roles in enlightening people on dangers of the virus, how and why to avoid it. We have had use of multimedia visuals spread on whatsapp….
He continue to explain that in the area of accountability and transparency, we have had ICT helping. We have had many persons who would have otherwise ‘died’ due to Covid-19 getting attention after alarm was raised using platforms powered by ICT, I can go on and on. Tweeted the guest. Take Nigeria for instance, we have seen the NCDC using multimedia platforms to reach Nigerians, it is not strange to see many Nigerians waiting on the Twitter handle of NCDC to see the figures for the day. We see news on lockdown shared here. He further stated that, ICT has helped in Nigeria. It has helped in many ways. Economically, socio-economically, reducing the spread, emotionally and psychologically, participatory solution to the pandemic, reducing civil disobedience and ensuring stability in governance. For instance, let us imagine that we do not have social media platforms for national awareness on the virus, the impact would have been colossal. Nigeria has through active citizens & citizenry engagement managed the virus thus far. Although, there are lapses. Oyedeji Emphasized.
On how can individuals, organizations & govt can leverage on these positive side of ICT & help in curtailing this virus or at least reduce its spread in our communities. The guest said that, we can use our social media platforms to promote awareness that Covid19 is still existing. The danger we have currently is the discussions we have on some platforms that Covid19 has winded up. We have more Nigerians online now and we must leverage on this.
The government must not just leave NCDC to giving us updates on figures & sending messages to phones, we must have the Orientation agency mobilized to the grassroots. Let me point it clear that if we must stop community transmission, we must harp on safety measures, we must begin to use ICT tools to rebrand the message we are passing. It has now gone beyond using facemasks but people understanding the usage. People may not listen to you talk to them on why they should not use borrowed Face masks but they read messages. I keep saying the govt, we now must begin to look at sending messages on Phones through local languages, and we would not assume that everybody understands English. As Covid19 elongates, we have myths about it spreading & we must stop this now at communities, we must.
Corporate organizations have their part to play. Members of staff of corporate organizations who also make up members of communities should be encouraged to be ambassadors of informing people on their whatsapp groups, facebook platforms about need to be proactive @ICTAdvocates
On the way digital solutions can aid Nigeria’s Covid-19 fight. He mentioned that, the fight against Covid19 is not just about curtailing the spread of the virus. Let us not forget importantly that the fight also involves economic stability and survival of people. We have had mobile health solutions currently but will dwell on hunger management. Digital solutions should aim at solving problems around Startups survival, solution that should reduce job loss. For instance, we should fashion ways of using Digital solutions to curb shutting down of companies. Solutions in Edutech, Agrotech and crisis management
In responding to the question that, World has in the past experienced pandemic deadly more than Covid 19 such as Spanish Fluid, but the fear and afraid of Covid 19 supersede more than any pandemic. Can we say that ICT at one angle contributes to this? He answered with Yes and No.
Yes because we have many fake information flying round on social media & this causes tension. It is same as when it was said that salt &water curbs Ebola. No, because you wouldn’t blame Social media for failure in information management round the country @ICTAdvocates. Lack of adequate test kits had created fear in minds of people that even the country cannot take care of them enough, when isolation centres were the issue, people panicked that they may die, when the country begged for ventilators, many Nigerians felt scared.
What I am saying is this; Spanish Flu would have had more fear if there were social media, it is what we can’t run away from. Failure of the system will enable fear anywhere, whether on social media or off it. So, even if there no SM, we would have fear @ICTAdvocates
Worldwide, in USA, Italy & many others, Social media created a necessary fear. Pandemic comes with fear, which is why every country must be more proactive nowadays because we are dealing with multiple information sources. He explained that Information and communication assisted public with regards to Covid19 pandemic in areas of awareness, creating hope for SMEs, getting verified information on policies from the right sources, creating new job opportunities for survival and many more time won’t permit to mention.
On the ways Nigeria can leverage on ICT in its economic recovery from the damage caused by covid-19. He said, Beyond Covid19, any country that will survive must invest in Digitalization. This is the time for Nigeria to have Digital Literates. Those who will understand how to tap into the market that will be created companies moving online. Education, Agriculture, Health, Manufacturing, Logistics, media, food & Beverages, Deliveries, Fintech will leverage more on ICT, we must build our economic recoveries around preparing our citizens for this change. It is not enough to pump money into the economy.
In his recommendations he mentioned:
1) We should use ICT to make our Covid19 easier to understand through local languages.
2) We should prepare for Post-Covid19 understanding that our citizens need to be faster prepared for Digitalization.
More pro-activeness in use of ICT to stop community transmissions.
We should also make messages passed understandable. We should start looking at survival through Digital media by making our citizens Digital literates.
We must manage information better through ICT.
Finally, we must see the reality of Covid19 by not just sending messages on adhering to protocols but ensuring that SMEs are assisted to survive in this time through ICT. We must begin to look at a Digital Nigeria(ns) now& post-Covid, that is our new system. Thanks