Information and Communication Technologies

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Information and Communication Technologies and the Effects of Globalization: Twenty-First Century "Digital Slavery" for Developing Countries--Myth or Reality?

L. A. Ogunsola
Hezekiah Oluwasanmi Library, Obafemi Awolowo University
Ile - Ife, Nigeria

The main goal of this paper is to examine the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) revolution and the concept of globalization as they effect developing countries. Globalization as one of the reasons for possible widening of the gap between the poor and the rich nations was examined and the emerging concept of "digital slavery" was carefully evaluated. The wide gap in availability and use of ICTs across the world and the influences ICTs exert on globalization at the expense of developing countries were carefully examined and suggestions and necessary policies were offered for developing countries to leap-frog the industrialization stage and transform their economies into high value-added information economies that can compete with the advanced countries on the global market. This is why it is important for Africa, in general, and Nigeria, in particular, to be aware of the implications, prepare to avoid the most telling consequences and prepare to meet its challenges. Introduction

The information revolution and the extraordinary increase in the spread of knowledge have given birth to a new era--one of knowledge and information which effects directly economic, social, cultural and political activities of all regions of the world, including Africa. Governments worldwide have recognized the role that Information and Communication Technologies could play in socio-economic development. A number of countries especially those in the developed world and some in developing countries are putting in place policies and plans designed to transform their economies into an information and knowledge economy. Countries like USA, Canada, and a number of European countries, as well as Asian countries like India, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, and South American countries like Brazil, Chile, and Mexico among others, and Australia and Mauritius either already have in place comprehensive ICTs policies and plans or are at an advanced stage of implementing these programmes across their economies and societies. Some of these countries see ICTs and their deployment for socio-economic development as one area where they can quickly establish global dominance and reap tremendous payoff in terms of wealth creation and generation of high quality employment. On the other hand, some other countries regard the development and utilization of ICTs within their economy and society as a key component of their national vision to improve the quality of life, knowledge and international competitiveness.

As Faye {2000} has pointed out, ICTs are offering even less developed countries a window of opportunities to leapfrog the industrialization stage and transform their economics in to high value-added information economies that can compete with the advanced economics on the global market. Technological innovation has contributed to globalization by supplying infrastructure for trans-world connections. According to Ajayi {2000}, the revolution taking place in information and communication technologies have been the central and driving force for the globalization process. Both developed and less-developed countries can not afford to miss out on the opportunities these technologies are creating.

In practice, globalization benefits those with technology, resources, contacts, information and access to markets. It has a negative impact on the poor. The prediction is that the gap between the new winners and losers within the world economy order dominated by an Information and Knowledge Economies will be much larger than the development gap that now exists between the advanced nations and the less developed nations. African countries are at risk of being further marginalized if they...
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