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The Role Of Technology In Achieving The SDGs

Softcom

By Softcom on May 08, 2020

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Technology and innovation are central to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). When utilized effectively, technology can be mobilized to identify barriers to and provide solutions for sustainable development challenges from the local to global level.

Living in an increasingly socio-technical world, locally-informed and context-appropriate applications of science and technology are crucial to ensure long-term resilience of development efforts. People all around the world are connected by mobile devices with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge and so much more, foreshadowing stunning possibilities. This potential is multiplied by technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data processing, the internet of things, autonomous vehicles, and other new technologies.

Indeed, Science, Technology and Innovation, together with Financing for Development, were identified by the UN as one of the two main “means of implementation” to achieve the SDGs by 2030..

The World Bank Group (WBG), is working to ensure that economies in developing countries harness innovation to eliminate extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity while developing a corporate approach to disruptive technology, the are engaging governments and citizens, coordinating development partners, and mobilizing the private sector to develop the foundational building blocks for sustainable, technology-led economies (for example, the Digital Economy for Africa Initiative, and Identification for Development). (Mohieldin, 2018) The ongoing data revolution has been described as “changing the way data is gathered, understood, shared, and utilized in development”.

OUR ENVIRONMENT

Nigeria is a lower-middle income country, with annual per capita income of about US$2,500. It is Africa’s largest economy, and one in seven Africans is Nigerian. Despite Nigeria’s significant human and natural resource capital, around a third of the 180 million Nigerians live below the national poverty line, with around another third just above, with the percentage of people suffering from inequities based on geographical and gender barriers, still very high. Inequalities in terms of lack of education, good healthcare facilities, lack of financial inclusion, climate change, lack of access to quality life, social protection and job opportunities, among so many others.

To end poverty in all forms and dimensions by 2030 will involve targeting the most vulnerable, increasing basic resources and services, and supporting communities affected by conflict and climate-related disasters.

Several issues accompany the implementation of government policies, nevertheless, economic growth and development are addressed through the deployment of these policies. Issues such as inequality, economic diversification, unemployment, poverty, human capital deficit, rural development, are majorly solved through social impact programs. This makes the policy-making process as well as implementation notwithstanding its challenges , highly imperative. On the whole, African social impact programs have continued to be held back by structural weaknesses, especially in the area of financial mobilization , that have not been tackled adequately; Financial inclusion, Learning, access to Data for Nation Building.

A significant proportion of Nigeria’s workforce is negatively affected by varying degrees of unemployment and skills mismatch with the requirements of the job market. Over the past 20 years, however, the continent has recorded huge success in the mobile segment of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). To date, mobile networks have covered over 90% of Africa’s urban population while Sub-Saharan Africa currently has the highest ratio of mobile to telephone subscribers of any region in the world. There has also been an increased awareness surrounding the central importance of education to development. The world today is a knowledge-based economy and the benefits accruable from the blurring geographical boundaries can only be maximised by nations with a highly skilled and educated labour force.

IMPACT OF ICT FOR DEVELOPMENT

Gender equality- Ending all discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, it’s crucial for sustainable future; it’s proven that empowering women and girls helps economic growth and development.

The world suffers from wide-spread gender inequality and is therefore missing out on a key ingredient to economic success. the International Finance Corporation, launched a new initiative called Digital2Equal primarily aimed at advocating for the expansion of opportunities for women and girls which brought together 17 leading technology companies operating across the online marketplace to boost opportunities for women in emerging markets these range from closing gender gaps in their workforce to goals aimed at boosting opportunities for female consumers or providers of services and products on their online marketplaces.

In many developing countries, the practice of sharing one mobile phone among family members impacts a woman’s ability to freely use the device. Even women who do have phones of their own are often not able to use them whenever they please, whether due to close monitoring of their activity by men in the household. Women are 10 percent less likely than men to own a mobile phone, and 313 million fewer women than men use mobile phones, according to a 2019 report released at Mobile World Congress by Global System for Mobile Communications, the trade body representing the interests of mobile network operators. The research, supported by the donor agencies of Sweden and the United Kingdom, examines the mobile gender gap and states that women are 23 percent less likely than men to use mobile internet.The mobile gender gap, like the digital divide more broadly, could lead to mobile phones being tools for exclusion rather than tools for inclusion and development.

This led to the 2016 Mobile World Congress, where mobile operators made commitments to close the gender gap, setting targets for 2020. So far, 37 operators from 27 countries reached 16 million women.

When it comes to affordability, governments could support the industry to develop pro-poor infrastructure and lower the upfront cost of mobile handsets. NGOs can add value by providing digital literacy training for women, developing services to help women feel safer online, and producing content that is relevant to women and available in their local language. The private sector, governments, and the global development community could work together to improve the quality of gender-disaggregated data so they can set gender equity targets and track their progress against them.

SOFTCOM AS A SDGs ENABLER

The availability of quality data allows for an effective assessment of the outcome of any intervention. The gathering and analysis of data on a massive scale requires investment in technology. This allows for determination of trends and themes and to allow for adjustments to be made when departing from agreed objectives.

To end poverty and significantly improve the quality of life, implement social protection systems, ensure equal rights to economic resources and invest in poverty eradication actions, we would need to map poverty efficiently, there is a need to collect, collate and analyse data to predict how rich or poor specific locations around the world are (providing information on location of markets, financial institutions, and agriculture and processing factories for example). There is a dire need to make this information widely available and precise to help aid organizations and policymakers in a more efficient distribution of funds and evaluation of policies.

Achieving gender equality means ensuring financial inclusion, empowerment and access to banking facilities for women and girls. With equal access to the full range of needs-based financial services, that is savings, credit, insurance, payments, and the accompanying financial education, women stand a chance of social and economic empowerment.

Whether they work in the home or outside of it, whether they are employed or self-employed, financial inclusion provides women the tools for accumulating assets, generating income, managing financial risks, and fully participating in the economy.

Women are also more likely to work in informal employment and in vulnerable, low-paid or undervalued jobs. They also do not enjoy the same access to financial services as men. Fifty-six per cent of all those without a bank account are women, this means that nearly a billion women are unbanked. Those with bank accounts do not necessarily have control over their finances, nor have much wealth, but it is a starting point for financial inclusion. This is what EYOWO means to financial inclusion, the direct access to digital banking service, with easy access to microfinance and lending services.

WAYS SOFTCOM CAN CONTRIBUTE

Security

National Security today requires identification of people, things and activities. Anonymity provides criminals with protection and operational advantage. Stripping away this anonymity puts them at a disadvantage. Biometric technologies can help achieve this. Increased concerns about national security and the tracking of individuals as they cross borders have caused passports, visas, and border-crossing records to be linked to biometric data. A focus on fighting insurgencies and terrorism has led to the military deployment of biometric tools to enable recognition of individuals as friendly or hostile.

Providing legal identity for all gives better control of access to physical facilities while ensuring safe and orderly migration. This is one of the problems PassID can solve, biometric enrollment and verification of identities all collated into a database, with real time access to this data.

Humanitarian relief

Identification is crucial for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) who have been forced to flee their homes to host communities within and outside their countries. With Identification comes inclusion into the Host countries’ population registry and Identification system, officially recognised with life events are recorded, facilitating social participation for many IDP’s and contributing to addressing gender-based issues and other risks of marginalization, including access to and all other rights, protection, humanitarian assistance and opportunities that come with it.

The collection, collation and analysis of Data surrounding migration and displacement provides the adequate information needed to plan and implement strategies for intervention also providing real time tracking systems for hard to reach areas and also monitoring and evaluation of programmes.

Governance

With terms like “open government” “inclusive governance”, we see countries implementing strategies to aid good governance. For this, data can serve as a bedrock for informed decision making with linking, and synchronization of information and thus build efficiency of government, used by governments to better connect to their citizens through e-government tools, it is useful to make better decisions, design better public policies, and for efficient resource allocation.

Data tools can be developed as complaints management platforms, public sector efficiency management systems and citizen participation platforms to allow citizens engage in ideas, votes, budgets and participatory legislation. This will serve as a means to improve stakeholder engagement, promote transparency and serve as information management.

Economic stabilization

It is not an exaggeration to say that every economic activity is inseparable from collecting and processing data with the financial industry being of the most data-oriented businesses. The multidimensionality of data has its advantages to economists in identifying economic trends when they occur (nowcasting), through manipulating and analyzing this data.

Data can improve the way in which one analyzes economic activity, and data analysis and predictive modeling developed in statistics and computer science can be useful in economic analysis, improving monitoring and forecasting of economic activity at the government level. Central and local public administrations collect vast amounts of administrative data at the micro level, in areas such as tax collection, social programs, education or demography, among others. Proxies of economic indicators.

Indirect measures such as online searches or social media publications can also be used as proxies for economic indicators such as employment or household confidence.The availability of “real-time” data can provide an advantage in terms of “nowcasting” or identifying economic trends as they unfold. A significant amount of data that would contribute to a significant improvement in measurements. The availability of large-scale administrative and private data could lead to better ways of measuring economic effects through broader data.

Democratization

Identity inclusion is the fuel that drives Democracy, with citizen identification and access to tools that enable public participation, ensure and maintain free press while promoting the active contribution of civil society. Also ensuring that free and fair elections were conducted with one vote equaling one person using biometric identification and maintaining a constitutional framework for elections.

Having a formally recognized form of identity provides the poor and vulnerable with the opportunity to participate effectively. This is critical for achieving a wide range of development outcomes; from opening a bank account and paving the way for broader financial inclusion to accessing education services, It can also strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of the state in providing critical services, such as government to person (G2P) payments, and reduce unnecessary waste of resources through better planning and targeting.

Development

The role of education and capacity development in the development of a nation is evident, and its justification as a veritable tool to catalyze socio-economic development does not require long argument and intellectual discourse or debate. Thus, nations across the world are necessitated to enact several educational policies in order to harness the immense positive attributes that education is characterized with, as well as contributing conscious effort at devoting their resources to acquiring qualitative education, this is targeted towards achieving better economic growth and development, among others. The significant growth of mobile technology in relation to education has created a paradigm shift in the delivery of knowledge through the digital learning space from the distance learning to electronic learning and now, to the mobile learning phase. Thus, it is imperative to make a shift from conventional knowledge delivery patterns to suit the experience and abilities of the current generation of learners. The diverse nature of research on mobile learning has generated a divergent definition to define the concept. However, the unanimously characterized definition observed include: mobility; access; immediacy; convenience; and contextual. Mobile learning has brought about a great added value to learning by bridging the environmental gap in respect to extending classroom interaction to other locations via communication networks.

Understanding that technology has the potential to affect many aspects of economic and societal activities such as GDP growth, employment, productivity, poverty alleviation, quality of life, education, and healthcare, ICTs have demonstrated the positive and significant impact they can have on economic development by improving the business environment in rural areas. Technology provides access to market and business information, brings financial services literally to the hands of rural consumers, helps local communities organise and link themselves, and, through the connection with others, exchange know-how and ideas. Technology plays a significant role in promoting entrepreneurship and economic progress in rural areas, contributing to improving the competitiveness of agriculture and forestry, the quality of life and diversification of the rural economy.

Softcom Limited delivers tech-based solutions to enable social and economic impact on the African continent. With industry expertise in different sectors, we are able to connect individuals and businesses with meaningful innovations, from delivering the educational technology of the N-Power platform —on e-tablets — to developing a truly inclusive FinTech solution. Softcom also engages in targeted community social responsibility campaigns built around tech and aimed at impacting communities from the grassroots.

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