How Societal Orientation, Cultural Norms Hinder Digital Rights and Inclusion in Africa – By Rabiu Musa
HOTPEN – Majority of the people in African societies are still living in the 20th century owing to the fact that societal orientation and cultural norms hinders the exercise of digital right and inclusion in Africa. Hence, it is clearly seen that people are either not consciously aware of the fact that the world has turned into a global village or they are shying away from the glaring phenomenon, owing to which facility of communication today and the development of large urban centers, people have moved from their ethnic enclaves into culturally multi-ethnic societies; or rather lack of electricity would not allow people to use smartphones, as well as the latest state of the art gadget.
And in this part of the globe, people are still using olden days means of communication, as they often sent hand written letters; write business transactions on pieces of papers; all their stock taking and inventory are hardly recorded on a database or any computer software designed for such purposes.
One begins to wonder, what are the various governments in Africa doing to make citizens to become aware of the possibility of virtual interaction on the global scene; are numerous stakeholders working toward ensuring the exercise of digital rights and inclusion in all facets of live? Or they intentionally abandoned African societies to their fate in order to continue using the non-availability of digital gargets to govern the societies in a manner they so wish to without presenting an opportunity to them to participate in governance and key their opinion into a pressing national discuss.
All these and many more questions are relevant in the African societies, but are we ready to answer them, thereby seeking a helping hand where it is necessary? To be candid, someone somewhere is not discharging ones duty in the right order. Therefore, in as much as the Africans fail to rise to their responsibility, society will continue to be lagging. Though, we have started seeing some light since Africa is no longer a dark continent, with the emergence of the #EndSARS movement in Nigeria where citizens expressed their displeasure with the way they are being governed.
Moreover, in Africa and Nigeria in particular, few agencies for example, that have utilized Information and Communication Technologies facilities in e-government, telecommunication, and e-commerce services like NITDA and NCC while operating on digital platforms do not make it a duty upon themselves to ensure that our teeming populace is doing all it takes to exercise their digital right and inclusion. Even if it is not their primary assignment/responsibility, it is high time to liaise with sister Ministries, Departments and Agencies like the ministry of Information and the National Orientation Agency solely to actualize the nationhood dream in consonant with the 21st century and the global standard practice.
Also, the non-availability of ICT centers predominantly in Northern Nigeria’s schools and rural communities has further exacerbated the scourge of digital exclusion in societies, and even where it exists, the practical aspect is virtually missing. For those who strive hard to ensure their digital inclusion and exercise their civic right, incessant power outages wreak havoc.
What has caused the impending realization of Digital Rights and Inclusion in African societies is the olden days of communal ethnic orientation. Thus, indigenous people do not want to be involved in the revolutionary development of Information and Communication Technologies, in such a way that they can communicate, transact businesses and acquire knowledge using the technological advancement brought about by Information and Communication Technologies. By and large, the advanced countries are mostly talking about renewable energy, whereas the Africans are still trying to access sources of energy and power using HEP and gas turbines.
Our businesses are based on cash and carry transactions. Very few individuals accept cheques before the advent of e-commerce or electronic payment modules. Data collection and analysis were mostly done on paper, later on, entries were made on the computer. Here, in Africa and Nigeria for example, it took Ministries, Departments, and Agencies several years to enlighten the public on the importance of biometric record systems and data capturing.
If all African heads of government will rise to their responsibilities, the whole of Africa would be reoriented and acculturated with Information and Communication Technologies knowledge, in such a way that the impediment of Digital Rights and Inclusion can be thrown into the dustbin of history.
However, with the infrastructural and communication development of large urban centers, people have moved from their ethnic enclaves into culturally social strata in large cities, and here, individually do not have an adequate expression for a tribally diverse community. The modern way of thinking will not be a repetition of the old, but the fashioning of a new one out of the rich variety of the traditional past and the realities of the present, owing to which futuristic trends can be attained.
The global digitization culture will meaningfully be acceptable to everybody in the African societies irrespective of ethno-religious-regional sentiments if governments at various levels as well as parents will inculcate the idea of digital technologies right from Nursery school and at the family level.
This philosophy will see the African through a technological civilization without the danger of losing his deep consideration for man and nature. A quality that leaves the African with the marked capability of a genuine appreciation of enhancing live activities on the earth’s crust.
The modern cultural norms are not a synthesis of foreign and African aesthetics and cultural values. It is African orientation, not a traditional African sense of direction but a hybrid of African and global cultural values. Now African music, dance, design, painting, films, architecture, town and city planning, and literature all founded on African philosophy and so eloquent in our indigenous languages are now inculcated into the digital pavilion. Several musicians and artists often displayed their talents online, to have a global outreach. There are still a huge number of people with artistic talent who do not carry their stuff for the benefit of the world audience, and some of these people are the laggards tied to the African norms of digital apprehensive.
In a nutshell, having understood that digital rights and inclusion are being exercised as standard practice all over the world, whereas in African societies it is either minimal or in some cases missing, solely due to lack of orientation and olden days conservative way of thinking; something tangible need to done to curtail this misfortune.
Based on what is expounded in this write-up, it is of paramount importance for the African heads of government to find a means of orienting, informing, and enlightening their teeming population on how to exercise both Digital rights and inclusion as a standard practice of the enlightened minds all over the globe, as this will create thousands of jobs in African societies. Likewise, it is good to use local languages as a medium of expression. At least all hands must be on deck to give a common man a sense of direction in the 21st century; and harnessing the Information and Communication Technologies facility is the only guarantee to ensure the real exercise of Digital rights and inclusion for Africans, no matter how remote their locality is. And as soon as Africans can put all things in their proper places, even a local musician will find an online platform to showcase his/her talent and entertain the multitudinous netizens and at the same time establish an interactive session with the global fans of his/her music. Similarly, other practitioners in different fields of human endeavor can come up with a traditional African architectural design for display.